Generic medications developed as alternatives to specialty drugs may not significantly increase market competition and reduce prescription prices, according to a new study co-authored by a participant in an AHRQ-funded research training program. The project reviewed over 15 years of pricing data on imatinib (brand name Gleevec), a drug used to treat leukemia patients. A month of imatinib cost $4,000 when it was introduced in 2001, and that price climbed to $10,000 when a generic alternative went on the market in 2016. By September 2017, prices for generic imatinib were just 10 percent below brand-name imatinib even though generics made up 74 percent of all imatinib filled prescriptions. Barriers to price competition from generic specialty drugs may include few generics entering the market, lower than anticipated price differences, prescribing patterns that favored brand-name drugs and a smaller than expected use of generic drugs by patients. Access the abstract to the study, published in Health Affairs.
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