Study: Generic drugs have saved US $1 trillion

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The analysis was conducted by researchers at IMS Health, using government data, and released by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA).

According to IMS, generics saved the healthcare system $1.7 trillion between 2002 and 2012, and the savings are growing. Generics produced $193 billion in 2011 — a 20 percent increase over the previous year.

GPhA said the savings will continue to increase thanks to a provision of President Obama's healthcare law that allows generics to compete with the expensive, complex class of drugs known as biologics. The generic versions, known as "biosimilars," won't exactly mirror traditional generics, but GPhA said the savings will still be significant.

"The approval of biosimilars will inject the competition needed in the biologic market to lower costs and provide significant savings for patients in need of these lifesaving treatments," the study says.