Setting the Record Straight: Patients Need Innovation, Not Just Generics

Setting the Record Straight: Patients Need Innovation, Not Just Generics

07.12.11 | By Kate Connors

An article in today's Washington Post discusses how generic drugs can benefit America's overall healthcare system. In fact, nearly 80 percent of all prescriptions written in the U.S. are for generics, according to IMS Health. However, the article fails to take into account the important role that brand-name prescription medicines play in healthcare, as well.

Ultimately, with both options available, prescribing decisions must be made by physicians, who take a variety of factors into account in order to make the best choice for each individual patient.
According to a survey of physicians, the top two factors they consider are their own clinical knowledge and their patient's particular situation, including drug interactions, side effects, and contraindications.
Other key considerations include a patient's insurance coverage and whether a prescription is subject to prior authorization by an insurer. Clearly, physicians consider the myriad needs of each patient.
And while they also take into account information from biopharmaceutical research companies, the article author's suggestion that physicians are influenced by items provided by company representatives is both unsupported and out of date. PhRMA's Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals, which was updated and strengthened in 2008, prohibits providing of items "that do not advance disease or treatment education," even those of minimal value.
I reiterate that we do not discount the importance of generic drugs to patients and to the healthcare system as a whole. However, let's not forget that without innovative brand medicines, there would be no generics.
Our CEO John Castellani has a great line: "We love generics. They're our grandchildren. We created every single one of them."
Today's groundbreaking medicines will likely someday find their way to patients as generic options, as well.
But at the end of the day, if we rely solely on generics, innovation will stagnate. The future of medical progress lies not just in generic drugs, but in brand-name medicines.

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