Generic versions of the blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drug Zocor (simvastatin) and Zoloft (sertraline), a popular anti-depressant, create a unique opportunity for American consumers and employers to reap billions of dollars in savings, according to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA). Effective today, generic versions of Zocor will be available; Zoloft will go off patent within the next week.
“By the end of 2006, nearly 57 percent of the pharmaceuticals dispensed across the 38 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans will be generic drugs.” said Allan Korn, M.D., BCBSA chief medical officer.
“It is estimated that the generic versions of Zocor (simvastatin) scheduled for release will lower the price by 80 percent over the next six-to-eight months,” said Joel Owerbach, Pharm D., chief pharmacy officer, Excellus Blue
Cross and Blue Shield. That means for consumers without prescription drug coverage, the retail cost of a 30-day supply of generic Zocor may fall to $25 or less. Blue Cross and Blue Shield HMO and PPO members nationally may expect to save, respectively, $204 to $240 annually on co-payments by switching, depending on their benefits.
According to IMS, the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry market intelligence firm, an estimated $18 billion to $20 billion of branded pharmaceutical drugs will lose patent protection in 2006.