Generics Curb Rise in Drug Costs

Cheap alternatives to brand-name meds appear as patents expire
Bottles of prescription medications move along a production line at Medco Health Solutions, Inc.'s Willingboro Dispensing Pharmacy in this Feb. 28, 2006 file photo. Medco's profits have been greatly aided...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Scores of prescription drugs are getting cheaper, as name-brand patents expire and open the door to generic imitators. That's bad news for pharmaceutical companies, the Times reports, but it means that an aging population ever more reliant on drugs will be paying as much as 80 percent less for them.

Big-name companies have been hit hard with the rise of generics, with one industry giant announcing layoffs last week and another showing $329M in losses. But with generics already accounting for 60 percent of prescriptions, drug makers are planning to offset losses by offering generic brands of their own products—and shifting cash to research to find the next blockbuster.