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Potential Savings from an Evidence-Based Consumer-Oriented Public Education Campaign on Prescription Drugs

Objective. To estimate potential savings associated with the Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs program, a national educational program that provides consumers with price and effectiveness information on prescription drugs.

Data Sources. National data on 2006 prescription sales and retail prices paid for angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs), ß-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-coA) reductase inhibitors (statins).

Study Design. We converted national data on aggregate unit sales of drugs in the four classes to defined daily doses (DDD) and estimated a range of potential savings from generic and therapeutic substitution.

Principal Findings. We estimated that $2.76 billion, or 7.83 percent of sales, could be saved if use of the drugs recommended by the educational program was increased. The recommended drugs' prices were 15–65 percent lower per DDD than their therapeutic alternatives. The majority (57.4 percent) of potential savings would be achieved through therapeutic substitution.

Conclusions. Substantial savings can be achieved through greater use of comparatively effective and lower cost drugs recommended by a national consumer education program. However, barriers to dissemination of consumer-oriented drug information must be addressed before savings can be realized.

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