- Generic drug use in the UK makes up more than 75% of all drug therapies.
- Annual savings increased from approximately $18.6 billion in 2012 to about $21 billion currently, according to the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA).
- The increased savings were largely driven by the patent expirations of several branded drugs and the subsequent introduction of generics.
Warwick Smith, Director General of BGMA, makes the case that the cost-savings generated through the use of generics allows the National Health Service (NHS) in England and Wales to invest in new medicines. It also provides greater access to a larger population of patients.
The best example is generic Lipitor (atorvastatin), which was once the world’s top-selling drug and went off patent in the UK in May 2012. NHS's total spending on atorvastatin dropped from $223.5 million in 2012 to $56.87 million in 2013. During the same period, the number of atorvastatin prescriptions increased from 17.7 million to 24.55 million, meaning that 40% more patients gained access to atorvastatin at the same time that the cost dropped by 70%.
More access combined with lower costs is certainly a winning combination. But Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Executive Director, Alison Clough, has another perspective. “Savings related to the increased use of generic medicines should be reinvested into improving patients’ access to innovative new medicines,” said Clough.