Expiring Drug Patents Keep Pharmacy Techs Busy

Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 1:02 pm

It seems like the prices of everything has gone up exponentially: gas, milk, postage, and everything else we use on a daily basis. However, one necessity seems to have a major price cut pending: medications. With many patents soon to be expiring, future pharmacy technicians are going to be busy.

On MLive.com, Terri Finch Hamilton reports that “The next 14 months will bring generic versions of seven of the world’s 20 best-selling drugs, including the top two: cholesterol fighter Lipitor and blood thinner Plavix. An unprecedented slew of drug patents are expiring soon, paving the way for much cheaper generic versions of drugs used by millions.”

This is great news for those on a limited income who require the aid of these medications. “’Somebody who has a $50 copay might have a $10 copay now,’ said Kay Pharmacy and Home Medical Equipment owner and pharmacist Mike Koelzer. ‘There are people who won’t take their medication, or take it every other day because they can’t afford it. There’s a lot of that — and not just by people who are destitute.’

“The news is good for his business, too, he said. ’We can shop around now,’ Koelzer said. ‘We can go to four or five different companies that make the generics — they’ll be competing now — and the savings trickles down.’”

Hamilton explains that most patients who are in Lipitor or Plavix are usually on about five or six medications making it very costly. “Generic drugs typically cost 20 percent to 80 percent less than the brand names… Last year, the average generic prescription cost $72, versus $198 for the average brand-name drug, according to consulting firm Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions.

“Of the top sellers that soon will have competition, Lipitor retails for about $150 a month, Plavix costs almost $200 a month and blood pressure drug Diovan costs about $125 a month. For those with drug coverage, their out-of-pocket costs for each of those drugs could drop to less than $10 a month.”

It’s no secret that a large portion of our population is quickly entering the senior citizen category, and this is welcome news for them. I can’t help but think of my parents who are in their early 60’s and the cornucopia of vials and bottles that are already collecting on their kitchen counter. While many aging people are trying to figure on how to survive since their retirement investments are diminished and their home is a fraction of its projected worth, this is one bright spot in their financial future.

With such a high demand and now an affordable supply, those in a pharmacy assistant college should be able to find work as local pharmacies scramble to make these new generic medications available.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/07/expiring_drug_patents_mean_hug.html