Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire spotlighted the success of the state's Generics First initiative, which has saved millions of dollars in pharmacy costs by steering patients to generic drugs.


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Washington governor highlights savings from generics

October 26th, 2011

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire spotlighted the success of the state's Generics First initiative, which has saved millions of dollars in pharmacy costs by steering patients to generic drugs.

Gregoire on Tuesday also thanked the state's medical community, especially prescribing physicians, for helping the program succeed. According to Dr. Jeff Thompson, chief medical officer for the Washington Health Care Authority (HCA), Generics First is saving the state up to $56 million annually in Medicaid drug costs.

Generics First utilizes a computer data warehouse to track Medicaid prescriptions of brand-name and generic drugs and to identify prescribers who give expensive branded drugs to patients at outlying rates. After these prescribers were shown the difference between their rates of brand-name and generic prescriptions versus that of their peers, four out of five increased generic drug prescriptions.

"The most rewarding part of this story is the response of our doctors, nurses and hospitals,” Gregoire noted. "After Dr. Thompson was able to show doctors their prescription history and how it was different from their peers, the vast majority started to give patients more generic drugs. This helps keep patients healthy and saves taxpayer money."

According to HCA director Doug Porter, "What this initiative has accomplished, in addition to saving taxpayers millions of dollars, is to show that Medicaid agencies can work with providers to contain costs, provide quality care and develop measures for performance and feedback. And we can do it collaboratively and in a nonadversarial way.”

Since it was launched, Generics First has provided feedback reports and educational outreach to 780 providers with the highest brand-name prescription use. As a result of that effort, more than four in five physicians (82%) increased their percentage of generic prescriptions. Also, 65% lowered their percentage of prescriptions written as "Dispense As Written," or DAW, scripts. And over half of the 780 providers now prescribe generic drugs more than 80% of the time.

According to Thompson, the campaign's key feature was the ability to show prescribers that every percentage point increase in the state's total generic prescription fill rate saves between 0.5% and 1% of Medicaid’s annual $400 million prescription expenditure.

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