CAGW CRITICIZES EFFORTS IN STATES TO RESTRICT ACCESS TO GENERIC DRUGS

For Immediate Release
Contact:  Jim Campi

February 2, 1998

           (202) 467-5300

 

Washington, D.C. – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) issued the following statement today on the release of a study on Coumadin and Warfarin published in the February issue of Cardiovascular Reviews and Reports.  The statement was delivered by Elizabeth Wright, Director of CAGW’s Health and Science Division.

“It has come to the attention of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) that Dupont Merck’s lobbyists are spending a lot of time and money to get state legislatures to pass laws that restrict access to generic pharmaceuticals.  In particular, they are putting  pressure on legislators to pass laws that would restrict access to generic Narrow Therapeutic Index (NTI) drugs.

“Warfarin is a blood thinner and is considered a NTI drug.  In states where these restrictive laws have been passed, consumers – particularly the elderly – will find their access to generic drugs have been limited and their healthcare costs will go up.  In other states, legislatures are now considering passing tougher regulations for dispensing generic pharmaceuticals.  If these laws pass, they also will limit choice and drive up the costs, not only to consumers and private insurance companies, but to the taxpayers as well.  CAGW objects to this failure to spend tax dollars wisely.

“Many states have programs that provide pharmaceuticals to the poor and the elderly.  Using generics saves more tax dollars.  But if doctors and pharmacists have to go through extraordinary hoops to prescribe a generic drug, the generic will simply not be dispensed to the consumer.  This will raise the cost of these government programs to taxpayers and will decrease care in other areas.

“Dupont Merck may claim these restrictive laws are necessary because of safety issues.  The study released today proves just the opposite.  Dupont Merck’s efforts are not about safety.  They are more interested in protecting their market share.

“CAGW is hopeful that this study will empower state legislatures to say “no” to the brand-name drug company and “yes” to protecting taxpayers.  Generics have been shown to save anywhere from 25 to 80 percent per prescription.  This frees up healthcare dollars that can be spent in other areas, such as cancer screening or immunizations.

            “In September, 1995 the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), as part of their Patient Outcome Research Team (PORT), announced findings on the best methods of preventing strokes in people who are at high risk.  The study found that two commonly known and effective interventions, one of which is warfarin, are not being used appropriately to prevent strokes.  They found that if warfarin’s use is expanded, it could cut in half the 80,000 strokes that occur each year due to atrial fibrillation.  It is estimated that proper anticoagulation therapy could save approximately $600 million per year. 

            “The AHCPR points out that the necessary monitoring of warfarin therapy can be made more efficient and affordable by assigning the routine testing to nurse practitioners or physician assistants.  This is particularly important for managed care organizations, which are enrolling increasing numbers of the elderly who are at highest risk for stroke.  Considering that the study being released today shows Barr Laboratories’ generic product is as safe and as effective as the brand name and is 30% less expensive, imagine the additional people that can be helped and the dollars that can be saved by Medicare, insurance companies and consumers!

“CAGW understands and appreciates the important role research pharmaceutical companies play in discovering new therapies that cure or control serious diseases.  We want research companies to have a return on their investment so that it encourages them to find new discoveries.  But competition also encourages innovation.  It increases quality and keeps costs down.  A 40 year monopoly is more than enough time for a company to recoup its investments.  It is time for competition to begin.  This study should give confidence to physicians and healthcare organizations to use this generic blood thinner, follow AHCPR’s valuable research in preventing 40,000 strokes a year, and save healthcare dollars for all Americans.”

Citizens Against Government Waste is a 600,000 member organization dedicated to the elimination of waste, inefficiency, mismanagement and abuse in the federal government.

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