By the Numbers: Perceptions About Generic and Biosimilar Medicines

08.17.17

With more Americans taking prescription medications than ever before, generic and biosimilar drugs can be an important strategy to help keep costs down without sacrificing health outcomes, especially for families managing chronic diseases or multiple health issues.

To better understand how consumers and patients view generic and biosimilar medications, we conducted a survey of approximately 2,000 U.S. registered voters. The insights we gained can be a valuable source of information as we shape programs and services.

The majority of Americans who take prescription medications are taking at least one generic drug.

Of the 60 percent of respondents who report taking prescription drugs:

  • Seventy-two percent report paying less than $50 a month on their prescription medicines, and 85 percent pay less than $100 a month.
  • Nearly six in 10 (58 percent) are taking more than three prescriptions.
  • Sixty-eight percent report that at least one medicine they take is a generic drug.

Consumers believe generics are as effective as brand name drugs, and are saving them money.

  • Eighty-five percent of respondents report that switching to a generic saved them money and also was effective in treating their condition.
  • And eight in 10 would accept a generic substitute to reduce their out-of-pocket costs.

Americans also see cost saving benefits to biosimilar medicines.*

  • Sixty percent of respondents noted that they would accept a biosimilar substitute for a brand name biologic if they found out it would save them money.

Cost-Saving Options for Clients

As a leading pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) with nearly 90 million plan members, CVS Health is committed to helping reduce costs and improve health outcomes. Our multiple industry-leading strategies are helping make drugs more affordable for the patients who need them.

This includes careful formulary management. Decisions about which medications to include on the formulary are based on maintaining clinical integrity to provide access to clinically appropriate drug options, while reducing pharmacy costs for plan sponsors and members.

Among our most recent findings:

  • In 2016, CVS Caremark clients using the generics-focused Value Formulary saw their generic dispensing rate (GDR) climb to 88.2 percent, as compared to 85 percent for clients on the Standard Formulary.
  • Since the introduction of our industry-leading and rigorous approach to formulary management in 2012, through 2018, our formulary strategy is expected to deliver $13.4 billion in cumulative savings to PBM clients, through the inclusion of lower cost brands and encouraging the transition to generics. 

For more information on how CVS Health is working to ensure consumers have access to affordable medicines, visit our Rising Drug Prices information center. And to stay informed about the most talked-about topics in health care, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.

Biosimilars are biological products that are highly similar to FDA-approved, brand-name specialty biologics (therapies isolated from a variety of natural sources using cutting-edge technology1), with no clinically meaningful difference in safety and efficacy.2

1  https://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/centersoffices/officeofmedicalproductsandtobacco/cber/ucm133077.htm 
2 https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/HowDrugsareDevelopedandApproved/

Would you be willing to accept a generic or biosimilar alternative to save you money?