CONSUMER INITIATIVE ON GENERIC DRUGS IS KEY TO ACHIEVING COST SAVINGS -- HECKLER
Cost savings from generic drugs can be tied directly to consumer initiative in requesting MDs and pharmacists to fill Rxs with generics, HHS Secty. Heckler maintained at the Sept. 4 press conference coinciding with the approval of generic diazepam by FDA. Noting that Valium is the ninth of the 10 top-selling Rx drugs, in terms of units sold in the U.S., to become multisource, Heckler said that generic alternatives to the nine products "can save consumers perhaps half a billion dollars to a billion dollars a year if the drug-using public follows a very, very simple action plan: Ask doctors to prescribe -- - ask pharmacists to dispense -- - generic drugs." Heckler noted that diazepam is the fourth drug among the 10 top selling products in the U.S. which has become multisource since the enactment of the Waxman/Hatch patent restoration-ANDA law last year. The others are propranolol (Ayerst's Inderal,) ibuprofen (Upjohn's Motrin and Boots' Rufen) and propoxyphene napsylate (Lilly's Darvocet-N). Valium is the fourth largest-selling Rx drug in the U.S., according to Roche. The firm said it sold $240 mil. in tablets and another $30 mil. in the injectable form during 1984. The other Rx drugs with unit sales in the top ten compete with generics that were approved with full or paper NDAs or with pre-1962 ANDAs: Dyazide, Lanoxin, Tylenol with Codeine, Amoxil, and Lasix. SmithKline's Tagamet is the only top-ten seller that is still on patent. Heckler maintained that "swift and very effective implementation" of the post-1962 ANDA/patent restoration law, which was enacted this month one year ago, has been a "key priority of mine and of the President's as well."
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