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November 14, 1986

The Economics of Generic Prescribing: Winners and Losers

JAMA. 1986;256(18):2566. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380180128035

In 1980 an evaluation of the price of prescription drugs in the wake of the passage of a generic substitution law in New York State concluded that while generic drugs were on average somewhat less costly than brand name drugs, prices (even for the same drug written the same way) varied enormously and unpredictably among pharmacies, generic prescriptions occasionally cost more than branded ones, and "savings" from generic substitution were often not passed on to consumers, in contravention of the statute.1

In this issue of THE JOURNAL, Bloom et al2 examine these and other issues in a much broader and more definitive study. Because their research involves 39 states and almost 900 000 prescriptions and 1400 pharmacies, and because of the scope of their analyses, this article is a landmark.

Despite some expressions of concern about the quality of multisource drugs or the appropriate use of pharmacists' training,