drugsIf given the choice, Americans overwhelmingly choose to fill their prescriptions with generic drugs instead of brand-name equivalents. More than 78 percent of prescriptions in the United States are filled with prescription drugs. Why? Probably because the generic versions are so much cheaper — they cost 80 to 85 percent less than brand-name drugs.

For example, the average price of a 90-day supply of 500mg Glucophage, a brand-name drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes, is $204.  The same amount of the generic form, metformin, costs just $10. If you were this patient, switching to the generic form of the drug could save you over $750 a year. That’s nothing to sneeze at!

What Makes Generic Drugs So Much Cheaper Than Brand Name Drugs?

Many people are suspicious of generic drugs because they cost so much less than their brand-name equivalents. They think this must mean the generics are poorly made or produced under unsatisfactory conditions. To the contrary, the Food and Drug Administration holds generic drugs to the same high standards of quality as brand-name drugs. Generic drugs are just as safe as brand-name drugs, they work just as fast and they have the same effects.

Generic drugs are cheaper than brand-name drugs in part because the companies selling them don’t have to recoup the costs of developing those medications themselves from scratch. Once a brand-name drug’s patent expires, multiple companies can get approval to produce and market generic equivalents of that drug. This drives the price down further through competition.Click here to find out if your drugs can be found cheaper as generics. Patents for Blockbuster Drugs Will Soon Expire
The past couple of decades have seen pharmaceutical companies produce some of their best-selling drugs of all time. Brand-name drugs like Viagra, Plavix and Lipitor have raked in billions around the world. However, the patents on many of these blockbuster drugs will be expiring soon. That means you can look forward to paying up to 85 percent less for popular brand-name drugs like Cymbalta, Abilify and Nexium.
Though it can sometimes take up to six months for a pharmaceutical manufacturer to get permission to produce a generic drug after that drug’s patent has expired, for some of these bestselling drugs, you can expect generic production to pretty much begin right away— pharmaceutical companies will be sure to get their FDA permissions sorted out in advance. For incredibly popular drugs like these, brand-name manufacturers can expect to lose 80 percent of their sales to generics within six months of the patent expiry date. That’s why when a drug patent expires they say it fell off the “patent cliff.”

Drug Patents Expiring in 2014:

Throughout the year, you can expect to see generic versions of a number of popular drugs appear. Expect your wallet to get fatter if you take any of the following drugs:
•    Cymbalta, or duloxitine HCI.Used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, depression, fibromyalgia, diabetic nerve pain and chronic musculoskeletal pain.
•    Nexium, or esomeprazole.Used to treat gastroesophageal reflex disease (GERD).
•    Lunesta, or szopiclone.Used to treat insomnia.
•    Symbicort, or budesonide/formoterolfumarate dehydrate.Used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
•    Celebrex, or celecozib.Used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis symptoms.

Drug Patents Expiring in 2015:

The drug patent party continues in 2015, when you can expect to pay less for generic versions of the following drugs:
•    Abilify, or aripiprazole.,Used to treat the symptoms of mental illnesses like bipolar disorder.
•    Copaxone, or glatiramer acetate injection.Used for multiple sclerosis treatment.
•    Combivent, or albuterol and ipratropium inhalation.Used to treat COPD.
•    Namenda, or memantine HCI.Used to treat severe Alzheimer’s disease.
•    Prezista, or darunavir.A protease inhibitor used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
•    Avodart, or dutasteride.Used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate).

Drug Patents Expiring in 2016:

The year 2016 will see generic versions of the following drugs become available:
•    Crestor, or rosuvastatin calcium.A treatment for high cholesterol.
•    Benicar, or olmesartanmedoxomil.A treatment for high blood pressure.
•    Cubicin, or daptomycin.An anti-viral medication.
The imminent expiration of all of these drug patents will slash health care costs for millions of people in the United States. If you’re taking any of these drugs, make sure to ask your pharmacist for the generic version as soon as it becomes available. Switching could save you hundreds — even thousands — of dollars a year.

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