Home / Generics / Research / Use of brand-name drugs increasing healthcare costs in US

Use of brand-name drugs increasing healthcare costs in US Posted 02/08/2013

Patients with diabetes who are covered by the US healthcare insurance Medicare are two to three times more likely to use expensive brand-name drugs compared to patients treated within the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System [1].

The study, which is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is the first large-scale comparison of prescription drug use between Medicare Part D and the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. It was carried out by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and Dartmouth College and investigated use of oral hypoglycaemics, statins, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) and insulin analogues in 1,061,095 Medicare Part D beneficiaries and 510,485 veterans aged 65 years or older with diabetes.

Brand-name drug use for patients using Medicare compared to patients covered by the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System was 35.3% versus 12.7% for oral hypoglycemics, 50.7% versus 18.2% for statins, 42.5% versus 20.8% for ACE inhibitors or ARBs and 75.1% versus 27.0% for insulin analogues.

The results showed that diabetic patients covered by Medicare were two to three times more likely to use brand-name drugs compared to similar patients covered by the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. As a result, Medicare Part D spent an estimated US$1.4 billion more in 2008 than the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System for the medications studied.

The way the two systems approach drug prescribing may be the reason for such differences. Medicare contracts with more than 1,000 private insurance companies, each using a distinct formulary and cost-sharing arrangement for prescribing drugs, whereas the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System uses a single formulary and all veterans have the same cost-sharing arrangement.

Conflict of interest
The study was jointly funded by the Veterans Affairs, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Editor’s comment
If you are interested in contributing a research paper in a similar area to GaBI Journal, please send us your submission here.

Related articles

Cost savings from use of generic medicines in Ireland

HIV generics could significantly cut treatment costs


1.  Gellad WF, Donohue JM, Zhao X, Mor MK, Thorpe CT, Smith J, et al. Brand-name prescription drug use among Veterans Affairs and Medicare Part D patients with diabetes: a national cohort comparison. Ann Intern Med. Published online 11 June 2013. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-159-2-201307160-00664

Permission granted to reproduce for personal and non-commercial use only. All other reproduction, copy or reprinting of all or part of any ‘Content’ found on this website is strictly prohibited without the prior consent of the publisher. Contact the publisher to obtain permission before redistributing.

Copyright – Unless otherwise stated all contents of this website are © 2013 Pro Pharma Communications International. All Rights Reserved.

Comments (0)

Generics News Research General


Biosimilars News Research General