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Cost Savings Limited With Generic Imatinib

Imatinib's inflation-adjusted list price more than doubled from launch to entry of generic


WEDNESDAY, May 9, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Prices of imatinib (Gleevec) remained high even after a generic version was introduced, according to a study published in the May issue of Health Affairs.

Ashley L. Cole, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Stacie B. Dusetzina, Ph.D., from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., discuss potential barriers to effective generic price competition for specialty prescription drugs using the case of generic imatinib. Outpatient pharmacy claims were selected for May 1, 2001, to Sept. 30, 2017, from the MarketScan Commercial Database for approved first-line treatments for chronic myeloid leukemia.

The authors note that the inflation-adjusted list price of imatinib more than doubled from its launch in 2001 to entry of generic imatinib in 2016 (from $3,881 to $9,825 in 2015). The list price of generic imatinib was 8 percent below that of Gleevec in 2016 and 10 percent below in 2017. In sensitivity analysis, comparisons with the projected brand-name price produced similar results, indicating that changes in the brand-name price did not drive changes after generic entry. In February 2017 and September 2017, generic imatinib accounted for about 58 and 74 percent of all imatinib fills, respectively. Following generic entry, 24 percent of imatinib fills were designated "dispense as written."

"In our case study of imatinib, we observed more modest price decreases than have historically been observed with generic price competition," the authors write.

One author is an employee of Truven Health Analytics/IBM Watson Health.

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