Access to Prescription Medications
Understand the Drug Lifecycle from Brand Name Prescriptions to Generics
Prescription medicines improve and save lives, turning many deadly diseases into manageable conditions and helping people who suffer from chronic diseases live healthier more productive lives.
Access to these medicines is critically important and, in the U.S., patients can gain access through various channels, including private health coverage such as employer-sponsored insurance, and government programs, such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Part D). For financially struggling, uninsured Americans, help is available through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance. And in times of disaster, patients can turn to Rx Response, which helps ensure patients living in areas struck by natural disasters, pandemics, or terrorist attacks have continued access to medicine.
Medicines are vital to helping solve rising healthcare costs in America and with optimal use, they can improve health outcomes and help avoid the need for costly healthcare services, such as emergency room admissions, hospital stays, surgeries, and long-term care.
To help appreciate the vital role that medicines play in American healthcare—both in terms of patient health and healthcare costs—it’s important to understand the biopharmaceutical marketplace.
Innovation and affordability
Unlike other sectors in the U.S. healthcare system, the framework for prescription drugs is a delicate balance of innovation and affordability. This balance, often referred to as the prescription drug lifecycle, produces long-term savings as a result of the initial investments and research by innovator companies.
Generic medicines represent the final stage of the lifecycle. Prior to the introduction of a generic to the market, an innovator biopharmaceutical research company has taken a brand-name medicine through the long journey from idea to discovery, early-stage research and development to clinical trials, regulatory review and finally to patients. Over time, these innovative new medicines lead to generic copies that patients use at low cost for many years.
Generics currently account for 84 percent of all prescriptions filled in America—and that is part of the lifecycle at work.