Americans overpay for generic drugs, paper says
U.S. consumers overpay for generic drug prescriptions by as much as 20% and it's largely because of the industry middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), according to a white paper from the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics.
- This report focuses specifically on generics, which account for more than 90% of U.S. prescriptions and 18% of drug spending.
- Among the strategies driving up costs for generics, the researchers said, are copay clawbacks where overpayments for drugs are pocketed by PBMs, as well as spread pricing where a PBM charges a health insurer a higher price for a drug than the amount it reimburses a pharmacy for — and pockets the difference.
What they're saying: "Generics are overlooked when we talk about drug pricing issues in this country," said Erin Trish, co-director of the USC Schaeffer Center. "But the same lack of transparency that is causing outrage over high and rising spending on branded drugs is also creating issues in the generic drug space."