Como os consumidores brasileiros já aprenderam, em vários momentos o preço do genérico se aproxima ou mesmo supera o do equivalente de marca. Agora, esse fenômeno foi detectado nos EUA, onde a venda de genéricos está crescendo muito nos últimos dois anos. Abaixo, trecho de reportagem do The Wall Street Journal.
Why Generic Doesn't Always Mean Cheap Zocor Case Shows DrugstoresMay Offer Only Small SavingsOver Brand-Name Drug Prices By SARAH RUBENSTEINMarch 13, 2007; Page D1 The great promise of cheap generic drugs is taking a bumpy road to arrival. Case in point: Zocor, one of the most commonly prescribed pills in the U.S., which lost patent protection last June. Multitudes of patients have switched to generic versions of the cholesterol-lowering drug, lured by lower insurance co-payments or the promise of a significant price drop for those who pay out-of-pocket. As predicted, the price that many insurers pay for generic Zocor has dropped dramatically. But the price that pharmacies charge patients who pay cash remains high in many locations, with wide variations by vendor. At online pharmacy walgreens.com, for instance, the price for 30 tablets of a 20-milligram dose of Merck & Co.'s Zocor is $149.99, compared with $89.99 for simvastatin, the generic version. And last week, the same dose of simvastatin cost $108.99 at CVS's Web site, compared with $154.99 for Zocor. After a call from a reporter, CVS said it would drop its simvastatin price to $79.99, as part of an "ongoing price analysis." At a time when policy makers are searching for ways to cut health-care costs, generic drugs are often viewed as one of the most straightforward solutions. But as the situation with generic Zocor illustrates, prices can vary wildly, and may not be nearly as cheap as expected. Generics of a number of other notable drugs that came off patent recently -- including the antidepressant Zoloft, the antibiotic Zithromax and allergy drug Flonase -- have also so far failed to deliver big savings in many cases. "We're not seeing that sharp a drop-off" in price among generic drugs that have come out in the past couple of years, says Jim Yocum, executive vice president of DestinationRx Inc., a Los Angeles pharmacy data and software company. "We're just not seeing it." To be sure, even for the uninsured, generics still typically cost less than their branded counterparts. And at big clubs such as Costco Wholesale and Sam's Club, out-of-pocket prices for generics do generally plummet. Simvastatin costs $6.97 for 30 pills of the 20-milligram dose at a Sam's Club for which the company provided price information. But just how far -- and how fast -- generic prices fall depends on a number of factors. Among them: how many generics makers sell the drug; how much competitive pressure pharmacies feel; whether there is another alternative, such as a different generic in the same class of drugs; and whether a particular generics maker gets an initial exclusivity period. By law, the first generics maker to challenge a patent on a branded drug and prevail wins six months of exclusive sales. For the more than 46 million Americans without health insurance -- plus perhaps millions more whose insurance plans don't cover drugs -- the lesson is to shop carefully. Some pharmacies list prices online, and certain Web sites will compare prices from a number of competitors. If your pharmacy doesn't list prices, a few phone calls to some competitors can mean big savings. If you're willing to travel, try pharmacies that aren't very close to each other and are less likely to react directly to each other's prices. The growing variety of outlets for prescription drugs -- with wholesalers and online vendors joining the chains and mom-and-pops -- brings a range of business models that affect how generics are priced. At sellers where drugs are a significant driver of revenues, prices may remain high. Sometimes, as with generic Zocor, prices stay high even after a six-month exclusivity period ends, when additional generics makers start fueling supply. Stores say they regularly review prices. At drugstore.com, generic simvastatin until recently had been at $125 for the common 30-tablet dose, compared with $135.99 for Zocor, even after the six-month exclusivity period ended in late December. After a reporter called to inquire about the price, drugstore.com on Friday dropped simvastatin to $27.99, which the company said was part of a regular review. Zocor now costs $139.99. On walgreens.com, simvastatin's price hadn't fallen after the six-month period's end. After a reporter inquired about it in late February, it dropped to $89.99 from $129.99. A spokeswoman said the price had already been under review.