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Cost and Price of Comparable Branded and Generic Pharmaceuticals-Reply

Louis Lasagna, MD
JAMA. 1987;257(18):2438. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390180056019.
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In reply.—  It is unfortunate that telling the truth about drug prices should be called an "attack" on pharmacists and generic prescribing. The data from several studies in this area are in total agreement: (1) Generic drugs are, on the average, cheaper than brand name drugs. (2) The cost of a prescription varies significantly from pharmacy to pharmacy, regardless of how it is written (ie, for a generic or branded drug). (3) In a given pharmacy, the difference in price between a branded drug and a generic version can be substantial or trivial. (4) Sometimes, in the same pharmacy, a branded drug will cost less than a generic. (5) Savings from generic prescribing are not invariably passed on to consumers. (6) If a pharmacy charges about the same for a generic version as for the innovator product, the profit percentage per transaction is greater with the generic drug, because the acquisition costs


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