Cutting Brand-Name Drugs Could Save US $73 Billion

HealthDay News — Americans could save tens of billions of dollars with more efficient drug use, replacing brand-name drugs with their generic equivalents whenever possible, according to a study published online May 9 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Michael Johansen, MD, family medicine physician with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, and colleagues reviewed self-reported prescription drug use by 107 132 Americans who were part of the 2010 to 2012 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

The study authors found that $760 billion was spent on prescription drugs during the study. Nearly 10% of all prescription drug expenses involved brand-name drug overuse. Out-of-pocket expenses totaled $175 billion during the study. Brand-name drug overuse accounted for 14% of these costs.

“We observed an estimated potential savings of $73 billion overall and nearly $25 billion in out-of-pocket expenses throughout the 3 years of the study,” Johansen said in a university news release.


1. Johansen ME, Richardson C. Estimation of Potential Savings Through Therapeutic Substitution. JAMA Intern Med. 2016; doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1704.

2. Sharfstein JM, Greene J. Promise and Peril for Generic Drugs. JAMA Intern Med. 2016; doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1720.