generic drugs
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Lipitor, one of the most frequently prescribed medications for lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease, is now available in generic form. Access to atorvastatin – the generic name for the drug – is going to save residents thousands of dollars. Here’s how:

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death in Indiana. Particularly alarming are the obesity rates (more than 65 percent) and the number of active smokers (more than 23 percent), both higher than the national averages. The state has the 14th highest death rate from the disease in the country.

In the past, residents on high deductible health plans who were prescribed this medication had to spend about $80 a month for the drug.  Now that the generic version is available, the cost will decrease to just a few dollars for a 30-day prescription. Even residents on a co-pay plan will realize the savings; atorvastatin is expected to fall in the $10-or-less co-pay category.

On an individual level alone, this is great news. But it’s also going to benefit those enrolled in a group health plan. Employees in group plans will not only personally save money, but they’ll save their company money by reducing the overall claims. A large company that may have been spending more than $100,000 each year on Lipitor may now be able to reduce those claims by as much as 90 percent. As a result, the group health plans will have more buying power.

Some  residents may be hesitant to make the switch. Although most generic medications are usually the same, the formulations can have minor differences. Keep in mind that if you do choose to continue taking Lipitor over the generic version, you will pay a higher cost – most health plans will categorize Lipitor as a Tier 3 drug, which means the co-pay would be substantially higher. Some carriers may choose not to cover it because the generic alternative is available. In that case, a person would likely be required to provide a letter from their doctor explaining why they have to take the brand name in order to get it covered.

For local residents agreeable to the switch, the availability of the generic version of Lipitor should provide a substantial savings.

Are you or a loved one currently taking this medication? How does Lipitor going off-patent affect you?

Source: “Indianapolis Fact Sheet” American Heart Association ( Accessed December 10, 2011