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Study: Generic drugs saved $931 billion over last decade

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Generic drugs have saved U.S. consumers and the healthcare system $931 billion over the last 10 years, according to a report released Wednesday by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

Conducted on behalf of the GPhA by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics and IMS Health, the report found that use of generic prescription drugs saved nearly $158 billion in savings in 2010. Much of the savings from the last 10 years has come from newer generics, particularly those introduced since 2001.

"These findings could not have come at a more critical time," GPhA president and CEO Ralph Neas said. "The analysis shows beyond doubt that savings achieved through the use of safe and effective generics deliver a huge win to consumers looking to hold down their healthcare costs. Moreover, the savings provide a winning solution to those in Washington trying to address the sustainability of the nation’s healthcare system, as well as the national economy."

The study also found that while generics account for 70% of prescriptions among Medicaid beneficiaries, they account for 78% of all prescriptions. If Medicaid increased generic use by 2%, it could save $1.3 billion per year.

"When the generic drug industry was established by Congress in 1984, it was predicted that generic drugs would save our country $1 billion a year," Neas said. "As this analysis shows, the savings generated by generic prescription drugs are now three times that amount every week."

The report is available here.

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Orabrush now available within 3,500 Walmart stores nationwide

BY Antoinette Alexander

SALT LAKE CITY — Thanks to a large online following and success on YouTube, oral care brand Orabrush now has gained distribution at 3,500 Walmart stores throughout the country.

With distribution within Walmart, the total number of retail locations carrying the Orabrush tongue cleaner is now more than 10,000 throughout the world, the manufacturer stated.

“To my knowledge, there have been few, if any, products to go from no sales, online or offline, to full nationwide distribution by using YouTube videos in just two years,” Orabrush CEO Jeff Davis said. “Online video is the core of our Reverse Marketing Model. The unconventional approach we’ve taken creates high levels of awareness with consumers online, fosters demand for the product in stores and forms retail partnerships to meet consumers’ need for convenience. What Orabrush has accomplished was impossible just a few years ago. The technology simply didn’t exist.”

Since its launch in 2009, Orabrush has executed one of the most successful viral marketing campaigns in recent history and currently has nearly 300,000 fans on Facebook, while its YouTube brand channel has more than 38 million views and is only behind Apple and Old Spice with more than 150,000 subscribers.

Orabrush began when 76-year-old inventor Dr. Robert Wagstaff developed a tongue cleaner designed to help cure bad breath using a combination of ultra-soft, pointed bristles that reach deep into the tongue and a unique scraper to remove bacteria.

After several failed attempts to get the product on store shelves using traditional methods, Wagstaff joined forces with Jeffery Harmon, then a student at Brigham Young University, who believed that the tongue brush could find success online. Two years ago, the company started with a single video on YouTube and has since cultivated a loyal online following.

“We owe much of our success to our dedicated online fan base, whose attention we were able to attract thanks to the unique, massive platforms YouTube and Google provide,” Davis said. “Over the past two years, tens of thousands of fans have asked on our YouTube channel and Facebook page, ‘When are you going to be in stores?’ We are excited to see a giant like Walmart so quickly respond to demand from the social community online. This type of online to offline marketing is the future of commerce.”

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Impact of last year’s flu season went beyond health, Walgreens survey finds

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Last year’s flu season resulted in 100 million lost work days, as well as $6.8 billion in lost wages, according to a new survey conducted by Walgreens.

In addition to the 100 million work days lost, Walgreens found that nearly 80% of those surveyed who got the flu last season said they at some point still went into work, while 60% were at least fairly concerned they would expose others to illness. What’s more, one-third of respondents spent between $251 and $1,000 on treating the flu last season, when taking into account missed work days, all or parts of vacations, child care costs, doctor visits and other related costs.

The survey, which examined the effects of influenza on people’s everyday lives and the economy, is the first of a two-part Walgreens Flu Impact Report series.

Other report projections included:

  • Nearly two-thirds of total missed work days would have been employer-paid, resulting in a cost of more than $10 billion to companies’ bottom lines due to lost productivity;

  • Nearly 2 million business trips also were cancelled last season, based on survey projections; and

  • About 32 million school days were missed due to flu last season, more than one-third of respondents with children said they needed to make alternative childcare arrangements when their children are sick, while 40% needed to take time off from work to care for a sick child.

“When it comes to the flu and your own personal calendar, there’s no planning for the many things it could impact,” Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness Kermit Crawford said. “Immunization rates have climbed and last season more than 40% of the U.S. population received flu shots. This report helps to reinforce the importance of getting a flu shot and how that small step toward protection can provide peace of mind when it comes to other important aspects of our lives.”

The Walgreens survey was conducted from Sept. 1-8, to a Vision Critical Springboard America panel to a nationally representative sample of 1,200 Americans ages 18 years and older.

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