Generic drugs – made possible by…

Generic drugs – made possible by…

01.08.13 | By

In the interest of public radio parlance and fair and balanced journalism, I’d like to suggest a new opening sentence to NPR’s story on physician prescribing decisions and generic drug utilization:

“We’re living in the golden age of generic drugs – made possible by innovative biopharmaceutical research companies.”

NPR’s story, which describes the findings of a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine, fails to capture the full scope of factors that impact physician prescribing and disregards the construct of the U.S. prescription drug marketplace.

Regardless of whether a patient asks for a certain medication, many factors affect physician prescribing decisions, including where medicines are found on formularies, clinical guidelines, articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and continuing education.

Physicians make treatment decisions on a case-by-case basis, in the best interest of each patient. Since not every patient responds to every medicine in the same way, it’s vitally important for physicians and patients to have a choice among multiple therapies when deciding on the best treatment plan.

Generics play an important role on our health care system – and with recent patent expirations of brand-name medicines, more and more generics are becoming available to patients. This is a good thing.

It reflects the unique marketplace for prescription medicines in the U.S. (aka the prescription drug lifecycle) – which unlike other health sectors carefully balances innovation and long-term, affordable access. The investment and research conducted by innovative biopharmaceutical research companies makes the long-term savings offered by generics possible. However, as with any balance or scale, there is a tipping point.

Patients who have therapies to effectively manage their disease may benefit from the next generation of medicines with fewer or less severe side effects, or easier administration. And there are thousands of patients, including many in the rare disease community, who are (eagerly, anxiously, desperately – your choice) waiting for any treatment option.

These patients are dependent upon innovative biopharmaceutical companies who are undertaking the long and expensive drug development process – not the generics industry that produces copies of medicines once they go off patent.

 

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