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Excellus Study On Brand Name, Generic Cost Increases

Joe Corrigan, Getty Images

Utica, NY (WIBX) – The average cost of brand name prescription medication in upstate New York has nearly doubled since 2004, according to a report from Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield.

It found brand name prices are up 93-percent, while generic prescriptions have risen just 5-percent over that same time. Also, the cost of brand names jumped 11-percent from 2009 to 2010.

At the same time, the number of brand name prescriptions written by physicians has dropped dramatically, the Excellus report found.

In 2005, 48-percent of all prescriptions were for brand name drugs while generics accounted for the remaining 51.9-percent. Last year, more than 70-percent of prescriptions written in upstate New York were for generics.

The purpose of the study was to identify the impact of those prices spikes, said John Giacovelli, director of Pharmacy Industry Relations for Excellus.

“We all have an interest in this. Whether we’re an multiple sclerosis patient, or a member of an employee benefit package, or even as taxpayers who contribute to government sponosored programs,” he said.

Giacovelli mentioned multiple sclerosis because MS medications are considered specialty drugs and are there are no generics for such prescriptions, he said. While those medications have been a tremendous treatment asset for patients, they too have seen a 120-percent increase in price since 2004, Giacovelli said.

What is pushing up the cost of brand names?

A variety of reasons, including specialty drugs and research and development, according to Giacovelli.

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