Nov 18, 2013
01:21 PM
Health & Wellness

Connecticut Doctors Prescribe Fewer Generic Drugs Than Average

Connecticut Doctors Prescribe Fewer Generic Drugs Than Average

Doctors in Connecticut prescribe fewer generic drugs than the national average, according to a new database released by ProPublica.

The nonprofit investigative online news organization created the database by gathering prescription records from the Medicare Part D program, obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests. These prescription claims account for about one-quarter of all prescriptions filled in 2011.

See the main national story: Medicare Wastes Billions on Name-Brand Drugs

About 77 percent of drugs prescribed across the nation are generics, but doctors in Connecticut only prescribed generic drugs about 72 percent of the time in 2011, the database shows. Brand name drugs come at a higher price tag. Most of the drugs prescribed have equally effective generic versions, which cost much less.

Only New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C. doctors prescribe more brand name drugs than doctors in Connecticut, according to the database.

A few doctors in Franklin, Stamford and Norwalk prescribed 10 percent or less of brand name drugs, while one doctor in Milford and 14 doctors in Bridgeport prescribed around 50 percent of brand name drugs.

Lipitor and Plavix, the two most costly drugs in the database, were prescribed by Connecticut doctors to the tune of about $84 million in 2011. Lipitor is a brand name drug that lowers high cholesterol and Plavix is a drug used to prevent heart problems and stroke.

Although there were only about 380,000 claims for those two drugs, those claims ended up costing almost six times more than the top three drugs prescribed to 1 million Medicare patients in the state.

The top three most commonly prescribed medications in Connecticut for those on Medicare are Simvastatin, which treats high cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood; Lisinopril, which treats high blood pressure and heart failure; and Amlodipine Besylate, which is used alone or in combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure and chest pain. All these three drugs are generics, but still ended up costing about $15 million in a year.

In all, Connecticut doctors prescribed $894 million worth of drugs under the Medicare program in 2011.

The ProPublica database includes every prescription filled by a pharmacy for a Medicare enrollee. It does not include prescriptions a doctor wrote but a patient didn’t fill, only what the patient received from his or her pharmacist.

 

Connecticut Doctors Prescribe Fewer Generic Drugs Than Average

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