Generic and biosimilar medicines improve access and affordability for the millions of people with illnesses like asthma, arthritis, heart disease, and depression. While we now have effective treatment options to help patients manage their conditions, many brand drugs come with steep price tags. Fortunately, there are more affordable generic and biosimilar treatments that reduce costs for patients and increase access to lifesaving care. In 2021, the use of safe and effective, FDA-approved generic and biosimilar medicines generated $373 billion in savings for U.S. patients and the health care system. Patients can take these medicines with confidence. For example:
Allergy and Asthma: $9.1 Billion
I don’t have a lot of time or money to spare, says asthma patient Raeanne, 33.
So, I tell the doctors to just give me the generic because they work the same, and it’s way less than half the cost of the brand-name. I’ve been able to use the savings to go back to school. Raeanne isn’t alone. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, there are 25 million Americans with asthma. Generic medicines ease their symptoms and allow them to lead fuller lives. View Allergy and Asthma Fact Sheet.
Arthritis: $1.9 Billion
Generic savings for arthritis patients over the past 10 years total $8.2 billion. Affecting more than 54 million adults in the U.S., arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the nation. Generic drugs can reduce the inflammation commonly associated with many varieties of the disease. Nearly half of arthritis patients have diabetes, and these patients saved $56.7 billion by taking generic medicines in 2021. View Arthritis Fact Sheet.
Cancer: $17.9 Billion
An estimated 1.8 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year, and more than 600,000 people die annually from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. For the past 10 years, generics and biosimilars have saved patients with cancer a total of $111.4 billion. Patients like Helen, 46, rely on biosimilar medications to treat breast, stomach, and other types of cancers. “After just two treatments of the biosimilar, I started to feel like me again, said Helen. “I was able to go back to work and to my most important roles as a mother and wife.” View Cancer Fact Sheet.
Heart Disease: $48 Billion
Heart disease—including heart failure, angina, arrhythmia, valvular heart disease and coronary artery disease—is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Generic cardiac drugs help patients live longer, fuller lives. Many heart disease patients also take generic medications for other conditions: 81% have hypertension, for which they saved $40.2 billion in 2021; and 69% have high cholesterol, for which they saved $48 billion in 2021. View Heart Disease Fact Sheet.
Mental Illness: $37.1 Billion
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all Americans are diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. Mental health patient, October, 26, switched to a more affordable generic antidepressant after a change in her health insurance coverage. She says,
I was able to put that money [I saved] toward therapy sessions and other activities that would help with my mental health. I hope that anyone out there who’s struggling with depression has access to affordable antidepressants. Millions of patients have entrusted their health to generics and biosimilars, resulting in $282.5 billion saved over the last decade. View Mental Illness Fact Sheet.
AAM and the Biosimilars Council are committed to working with patient advocates and other stakeholders to communicate the value of generic and biosimilar medicines.
By Sara Skubikowski, AAM Director of Strategic Alliances
Published on January 3, 2023