SOURCE: HealthPartners

January 18, 2007 11:56 ET

Price for Widely Used Cholesterol Drug Drops 90 Percent

HealthPartners Estimates $10 Million Annual Savings

BLOOMINGTON, MN -- (MARKET WIRE) -- January 18, 2007 -- HealthPartners estimates that its drug costs will decrease by more than $10 million annually after the expiration of a court order that protected the price of simvastatin, a generic version of the cholesterol drug Zocor®. The expiration led to a price drop of 90 percent for simvastatin from $85 per month to $13 per month.

"This is the number two drug among our members so this price drop represents a significant savings," says Richard Bruzek, HealthPartners vice president of pharmacy services. About 10,000 HealthPartners members have prescriptions for simvastatin.

Use of simvastatin is part of an increased trend to use more generic drugs. Nearly two out of three prescriptions (64 percent) for HealthPartners members are for generic drugs, a significant increase from 50 percent in 2004. The average cost of a generic prescription is $23 compared to $130 for a brand name drug. Increased use of generics reduced HealthPartners member drug costs by $34.5 million last year.

In the upcoming year, patents are set to expire on other widely used brand name drugs including the sleep medication Ambien®, Norvasc®, prescribed for hypertension, and Zyrtec®, prescribed for allergies.

About HealthPartners

HealthPartners (www.healthpartners.com) is the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation with commercial and Medicare Advantage plans that received the highest rating of "Excellent" from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

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