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S.C. BlueCross Members Save $32 Million By Switching to Generics

April 09, 2009

Columbia, S.C. – The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association announced today that Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies and its members collectively are saving billions of dollars annually by switching from name-brand prescription drugs to generic versions.

Based on a 2008 Survey of Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies nationwide, the average Generic Fill Rate (GFR)—the number of generic prescriptions dispensed against the total number of prescriptions (brand and generic) dispensed—was between 60 and 65 percent. That equals a savings of between $2.5 and $5 billion dollars for Blue Cross and Blue Shield members and their health plans.

Locally, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina reports a GFR of 64% for 2008, 5% more than in 2007. Each one percent increase in the generic fill rate corresponds to a one to two percent reduction in the overall cost of prescription drugs, or a combined savings for individuals and health plans in South Carolina of $32 million.

"With prescription drug costs skyrocketing, generic drugs offer consumers a safe, equally effective and lower cost alternative to brand name drugs," said Dr. Laura Long, BlueCross’ vice president of clinical quality and health management. "The best way to improve affordability of prescription drugs is to assure a competitive pharmaceutical market and promote the use of generics."

Information about generic drug utilization among the nation’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies may be found at http://www.bcbs.com/news/bluetvradio/generics/. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association briefed the media today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (www.SouthCarolinaBlues.com) is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The only South Carolina-owned and operated health insurance carrier, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and its family of companies include more than 20 subsidiaries involved in health insurance services, U.S. DoD health program and Medicare contracts, and other insurance and employee benefits services.

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