Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Popular medications are going on the cheap

In the next 14 months, seven of the world's 20 best-selling drugs will be available in generic form, dramatically slashing the cost for patients but also decimating sales for the drug companies that created them. CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy explains what they are and what this means.

So what are the two biggest drugs to go generic? Cholosterol drug Lipitor in November and blood thinner Plavix in May 2012. About 4.3 million Americans take Lipitor, while 1.4 million are on Plavix.

Generic drugs cost 20 to 80 percent less than brand names. When heartburn drug Protonix went generic, the price dropped from $170 per month to just $16.

By 2016, dozens of popular drugs -- Lexapro, Avandia, Lunesta, Singulair -- with $255 billion in global sales will go generic. Pharmaceutical company profits are expected to plunge.

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