Health Plus: More generic drugs on the way - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: More generic drugs on the way

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Chances are you've turned down getting a prescription filled if insurance didn't cover it or a generic drug wasn't available.

But thanks to an expiration date on drug company patents, that could all change.

Brand-name medications that make drug companies billions of dollars in sales need an all-important patent to stay in business.

"Drug patents last for 17 years and that includes from when it's first developed through marketing and whatever additional time after that," said John Hamiel, Director of Pharmacy for the Wheaton Iowa Region.

From now to the year 2016, drug makers will reportedly lose exclusive rights on name brands like Lipitor and Plavix, among others.

Drugs that millions of Americans take daily.

"If you've ever been involved in pharmacy at all you've always been asked when is Lipitor going generic and it will be going off patent this year in November," said Hamiel.

Dr. Brian Sankey with Covenant Clinic Family Practice said "it's an excellent time to talk to your doctor about new generics that are coming out. It's probably time to come in and get evaluated to find out if they have the disease and if they do have the disease now with the generics it's much more cost effective to treat those disorders."

On average, brand-name drugs cost nearly 200 dollars compared with a $72 average for generics.

"It's an exciting time because there is so much potential savings for everybody," said Hamiel.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, generic drugs must contain the same active ingredients as counterpart brand name drugs.

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