Cheaper Generic Pills Saved US $734 Billion: Lobbyists

Against the backdrop of President Obama's healthcare reform effort, the main lobbying group for the generic drug industry says the U.S. healthcare system saved nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars over the past ten years on generic drugs.

Based on what it calls an independent analysis by IMS Health, which monitors prescription drug sales, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) says cheaper generic pills saved more than $734 billion between 1999 and 2008.

Last year alone, the study says the country pocketed about $121 billion filling prescriptions with generic instead of pricier brand-name medications.

"To give some context to the magnitude of the savings created by generic pharmaceuticals over the past decade, one needs only consider that the $734 billion exceeds the cost of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) approved last fall, and is nearly the cost of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved in February," GPhA President and CEO Kathleen Jaeger said.

And the savings stand to grow, as tens of billions of dollars worth of brand-name prescription drugs are scheduled to go generic over the next few years, chief among them the biggest-selling pill in history, Pfizer's $13-billion-a-year cholesterol fighter Lipitor.

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