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Editorial
June 2016

Promise and Peril for Generic Drugs

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 3Department of the History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(6):733-734. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1720

Generic drugs now make up more than 88% of all prescriptions filled in pharmacies in the United States and have provided nearly $1.7 trillion in health care savings in the past decade.1 Yet tensions still persist between brand-name drugs and generics. Fifty years ago, pharmaceutical companies hurled the word generic as an insult—a reference to often unauthorized copies made by small manufacturers with questionable assurances of product utility. Yet the growth of this new industry was already under way, spurred on by waves of patent expirations, Congressional inquiries, and increasing interests of purchasers in less expensive versions of essential medications.2(pp1-136)

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