The Case for Generic Antidepressants

Nov 8, 2012
A new Express Scripts study demonstrates the effectiveness and affordability of generic antidepressants.
  • Depression

Antidepressants are among the most widely used medications in America. A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that use of antidepressants rose 400% from 1988 to 2008, and that about 11% of adults take these drugs.

Brand Names Not Necessarily Better

An Express Scripts study recently published in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy shows that patients who start on generic selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and generic selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are less likely to discontinue therapy (44.2%) than those starting on a brand-name alternative (46.8%).

Drug costs for those on generics were almost 50% lower, and overall healthcare costs were 20% lower.

What the U.S. Wastes on Brand-Name Medications

 Pharmacy Related Waste Depression

The price of generic antidepressants declined 9.3% in 2011, while branded products increased by 10%.

Across all therapy classes, patients using brand-name medications when a clinically equivalent generic was available cost the nation $49.8 billion in 2011. Experts have long advocated that using generics could reduce pharmacy costs for healthcare payers, without leading to treatment failure or increased medical costs in the short term.

Programs that encourage the use of generics, such as Step Therapy, can help cut waste from our healthcare system while maintaining patient access and ensuring better health outcomes.

Study Methodology

  • More than 16,000 patient records from an integrated pharmacy and medical claims database for commercially insured patients were analyzed
  • Findings were based on data from July 2005 to June 2007
  • Individual patients were followed for 180 days
  • Antidepressant users aged 18 to 64 years with no pharmacy claims for an SSRI/SNRI in the 180 days prior were included in the study

Author Bio

Lab Staff
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