Optima Health Launches Generic Drugs Campaign
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Optima Health Launches Generic Drugs Campaign 

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Virginia Beach, VA - June 5, 2006 - Why spend $30 or $40 for brand name prescription drug co-pays when you could choose generics for as little as $10? That simple logic is at the heart of a new awareness campaign by Optima Health called Choose Generics.

"Many consumers spend more than they have to for prescription drugs," says Deno Sebastian, director of Pharmacy for Optima Health.

"About half the prescriptions Optima covers are for branded drugs," Sebastian continues. "Our members could choose to save money on prescription co-pays if they asked their doctors for generics."

For instance, a study by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that consumers who replace all their branded prescriptions with generics can save up to 52% on their daily drug costs. Optima's Choose Generics campaign has a goal of increasing the use of generic drugs among its members by 10% in the first year.

Generics are safe, effective and FDA approved 

Generics are introduced to the market when the patents on branded drugs run out. Generics are less expensive, in part, because their manufacturers dont have to recover the costs of research and development or advertising to doctors and consumers.

"Generic drugs contain the same active ingredients in the same formulations as branded drugs," Sebastian says. "The Food and Drug Administration certifies they are safe and effective," he adds. "The major difference is cost."

As a matter of fact, the FDA reports on its web site that brand-name drug companies account for almost 50% of generic drug production. They often produce generics on the same production lines as their branded drugs under contract to outside buyers. So, generics are often virtually the same as their branded counterparts.

Education is Key to Reducing Prescription Drug Costs

The Choose Generics campaign will combine consumer, physician and pharmacist education about the economic benefits of generics.
Physicians will be asked to authorize generics when they write prescriptions. 
 If doctors dont specifically write dispense as written on prescription forms, pharmacists and consumers are free to substitute less expensive generics. 
 Optima members will be urged to ask their doctors for generic equivalents or for similar, less expensive generic alternatives that offer the same therapeutic effect. 
 Consumers will be urged not to accept drug samples from their doctors. Samples are the newest, most expensive drugs with the longest patent life. Using new drugs for disease management will greatly increase your prescription costs. Choose Generics! 
 Consumers can save even more money by asking their doctors about over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritan OTC or Proton Pump Inhibitors such as Prilosec OTC, instead of more expensive branded prescriptions.

Sentara Healthcare is a premier not-for-profit health care system serving southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Optima Health is a 346,000-member health plan serving 69 cities and counties in Virginia with an array of award-winning products including Optima Family Care, Optima Medicare Preferred, Optima FourSight for small to medium-sized businesses and other commercial lines.

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