||Home | Volunteer | Donate | Subscribe | FTCR Websites | Books | Site Map|
home / healthcare / in the media
CBS-TV Evening News (6:00 PM ET)
Sep 21, 2003
by GRETCHEN CARLSON & VINCE GONZALEZ
Contest between brand-name drugs and cheaper genericsGRETCHEN CARLSON, anchor: Health-care costs are soaring again and that puts a spotlight on the long-running contest between brand-name drugs and cheaper generics. In California, Vince Gonzales reports some doctors and HMOs are taking sides.
VINCE GONZALES reporting: For this patient's mild eye infection, a costly, brand-name drug is not what the doctor ordered.
Dr. DANIEL STONE (Cedars-Sinai Medical Group): I wrote your prescription for an eyedrop for your eye infection which is the generic for the drug Garamycin.
GONZALES: Like many physicians, Dr. Daniel Stone often prefers prescribing generic drugs which contain the same active ingredients. He feels they're just as effective and cost significantly less.
Dr. STONE: For patients who have experience with generic drugs, most of them are enthusiastic about generic drugs because they realize it's a--a way for them to save some money and still get good treatment.
GONZALES: To get more people to switch, four of California's biggest HMO kicked off a new campaign. They're giving out coupons, waiving a patient's first co-payment as much as $10 for certain heavily prescribed drugs including medications used to treat common conditions such as arthritis, depression and high cholesterol.
The HMOs hope to counter aggressive marketing of expensive brand-name drugs that bombards consumers every day through TV and print ads.
Dr. ERIC BOOK (Blue Shield of California): Our indications show that for a one cr--1 percent increase in the use of generic drugs above the cer--of--above the current rate, then for Blue Shield members there'll be a savings of approximately $6 million.
GONZALES: The HMOs claim the savings will be passed on to patients in the form of lower premiums, but health-care advocate Jamie Court believes consumers won't see any extra cash.
Mr. JAMIE COURT (Health-Care Advocate): What patients may see is less out-of-pocket costs because they would have paid more for a brand-name than a generic.
GONZALES: Dr. Stone knows that generic drugs don't work as well in some patients, but he hopes they will take advantage of the HMO incentives and give generics a try.
Dr. STONE: The fact that they'll be able to access a month of medication without have to pay out of pocket for it I think will allow the--the generic drug a foot in the door if their symptoms are controlled.
GONZALES: California's HMOs want cost controlled. They point out a patient taking three different drugs could save between $500 and $1,000 a year by switching to generics.
Vince Gonzales, CBS News, Los Angeles.
back to top
©2000-2004 FTCR. All Rights Reserved. Read our