DETROIT: A generic-drug campaign launched by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has saved it and consumers $97 million, the health-insurance company said last week.
The ongoing campaign, which began in 2001, recognized pharmacies that offered patients information about generic drugs - and rewarded patients who made the switch.
Blue Cross Blue Shield selected one independent and one large-chain pharmacy to appear in a $1 million ad campaign that addressed misconceptions about generic drugs and included information about them from the US Food and Drug Administration.
"We really wanted to use the FDA as a third party, objective party," said Doreen Saputo, manager of retail communications for Michigan Blue Cross.
Atheer Kaddis, director of clinical pharmacy services, said that of the $97 million saved, $86 million represented savings to Blue Cross, and $11 million represented out-of-pocket savings to members.
Increasing consumer awareness of generic drugs "is not a silver bullet," Kaddis said. "But it is a significant component of what we can do to reduce rising healthcare costs."
Kaddis said the campaign purposefully coincided with the loss of patent protection for two blockbuster brand-name drugs, heartburn treatment Prilosec and anti-depressant Prozac.