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Lipitor generics saved UK NHS £350 million in first 12 months Posted 31/05/2013

Generics of the blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor (atorvastatin) saved the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) more than GBP 350 million in the first 12 months following the expiration of Pfizer’s patent exclusivity.

According to The British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) generic atorvastatin provided the NHS with significant cost savings. Before the introduction of generics in May 2012 the NHS was spending more than GBP 400 million annually on Lipitor. But after generics were launched the price dropped by more than 85%.

Ms Kim Innes, Chair of the BGMA, illustrated these savings as an example of the ‘value of the mature generic [drug] market in the UK’ and the ‘key role’ that generics play in making the drugs bill more affordable for the UK’s NHS.

Ms Innes added that ‘without an established generics market in the UK, there would not be the savings which allow the NHS to spend money on new technologies and drugs.’

More than two thirds of all medicines dispensed by the NHS are generics yet they cost under a third of the NHS drugs bill, a saving of more than GBP 10 billion in England and Wales alone. According to the BGMA, without generics, the NHS drugs bill would be approximately twice its current level.

Doctors in the UK are trained to prescribe by INN (international nonproprietary name), a reason contributing to the high use of generics in the UK. In 2020, the UK Government scrapped plans to introduce automatic substitution, which could have led to even higher use of generics in the country [1].

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1.  GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. UK scraps generic substitution plans [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2013 May 31]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Policies-Legislation/UK-scraps-generic-substitution-plans

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Source: BGMA

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