May 20, 2008
Generics Are Powerful Medicine Announces National Grant Recipients
Eleven Consumer Organizations to Receive Funds & Support to Educate Consumers on The Safety, Value and Effectiveness of Generic Drugs
Boston, MA -- Generics are Powerful Medicine (GPM), a program of Community Catalyst and the Alosa Foundation, is pleased announce grants to eleven nonprofit organizations to educate consumers about the value, safety and effectiveness of generic prescription drugs. The recipients will use consumer education materials developed by GPM, and will employ a very broad set of strategies, targeting a diverse set of audiences, ranging from seniors to parents of young children, in large cities, small towns and rural communities.
The recipients were selected for their innovative approaches, their previous consumer education experience, their relationships with the target populations and their geographic diversity. They will work closely with GPM and with each other over the next year and a half to implement, refine and document a set of best practices and model approaches for how to encourage consumers to switch to generic drugs.
The recipients of the grants are:
- Children’s Defense Fund – Texas
- Gilead Outreach and Referral Center
- New Hampshire Healthy Kids
- LIFE Senior Services
- Los Angeles Free Clinic
- Maine Health
- Mountain State Education and Research Foundation
- United Senior Action Foundation
- Universal Health Care Action Network (UHCAN) Ohio
- Washington CAN Education and Research Fund
GPM’s team of medical experts and health care advocates are developing a set of printed, electronic and video materials on generic drugs. An electronic copy of these materials will available on our website to any interested organizations or individuals.
These materials will include:
- Factsheets and brochures about what generic drugs are, how they are inspected and approved, and how to save money on prescription drugs
- A wallet-sized card for patients to bring to medical appointments and pharmacies, reminding them of questions to ask about their medications and obtain generics, when appropriate
- Template public service advertisements for consumer publications
- An online search tool where patients can look up whether there are generics available for their medications
- A 10-minute video documentary on generics, featuring a physician, a pharmacist and several consumers
All these materials will be consumer-friendly, written in easily-understood, readable language, with a minimum of jargon. Many of the materials will be translated into Spanish.
Initial funding for GPM came from residual settlement funds in two class action lawsuits that alleged that a pharmaceutical company illegally kept generic versions of two prescription drugs off the market. GPM is seeking additional funding for the program and hope to make additional grants available in the future.
Generic drugs have become a vital tool for consumers to save money on their prescription medications. Generic drugs use the same active ingredient as brand-name drugs and are approved by the FDA. Generic drugs are as safe as the brand-name equivalent, yet much less expensive (often only 20-30% of the brand-name price). 65% of prescriptions in the US in 2007 were filled with generics, yet they accounted for only 20% of spending on prescription drugs.
Despite the huge savings possible with generics, they are still underutilized. American consumers and the health care system could save billions of dollars more by increasing the usage of generic drugs. With a recent study by Medco showing that more than 50% of Americans now routinely take one or more prescription drugs for a chronic condition, generics will become increasingly important. Unfortunately, many consumers have been deceived by myths about generics that have been perpetuated by the brand-name pharmaceutical industry. Brand-name drug companies now spend more than $5 billion a year marketing to consumers and more than $20 billion a year marketing to physicians. In addition to the message about any particular drug, there is an underlying set of myths in all such advertising – the inaccurate ideas that “newer is better,” that brand-name name drugs are superior to generic drugs , and that the more expensive a drug is, the more effective it must be. GPM aims to expose and confront these myths head-on, to provide consumers with the truth about generics, and to give them the tools to make smart choices about prescription drugs.
Increasingly, health plans and pharmacies urge consumers to switch to generics. Yet consumers sometimes view these messages skeptically, seeing them as self-serving. What makes GPM unique is that its materials and messages come from sources with no such self-interest, and will be delivered by well-trusted organizations with established relationships in their communities. This will help overcome the skepticism that some consumers have about generics messages delivered by other entities.
More information about Generics are Powerful Medicine is available at our website. The GPM materials will be made available on that website this summer.
About The Alosa Foundation
The Alosa Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination of accurate, unbiased, evidence-based and non-commercial information about medications for prescribers and patients. It sponsors the Independent Drug Information Service which provides educational research to prescribers and is funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Aging. Alosa is not affiliated with any pharmaceutical company in any way.
About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national advocacy organization that builds consumer and community participation in the shaping of our health system to ensure quality, affordable healthcare for all. Community Catalyst believes that health care is a basic human right and that all people–including children, the poor, the elderly, minority communities, and others who are vulnerable–should have access to quality health care. Community Catalyst works in partnership with consumer and community groups around the country to promote health care justice. http://communitycatalyst.org//