Use of generic cardiovascular medications by elderly Medicare beneficiaries receiving generalist or cardiologist care.

Division of General Internal Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York 10029, USA.
Medical Care (Impact Factor: 2.94). 03/2007; 45(2):109-15. DOI: 10.1097/01.mlr.0000250293.24939.2e
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Elderly Medicare beneficiaries can reduce out-of-pocket spending and increase their options for low-cost Medicare Part D plans by using generic drugs. Physicians play a key role in determining use of generics and specialty may be a particularly influential factor.
We sought to compare generic cardiovascular drug use by older adults receiving cardiologist and generalist care.
We undertook a cross-sectional analysis of data from the nationally representative Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey. Included were community-dwelling adults 66 years of age or older with hypertension, coronary disease, or congestive heart failure, one or more Medicare Part B claims for outpatient visits with generalists (internist or family practitioner) or cardiologists, using one or more cardiovascular drug available in both brand-name and generic formulations (n = 1828).
The primary outcome was use of one or more generic medication aggregated across 5 drug classes: beta-blockers, thiazides, calcium channel blockers (CCB), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and alpha1-adrenergic receptor antagonists. Within-class generic use also was examined. The main independent variable was cardiologist (20.7%) versus generalist-only care (79.3%).
In the aggregate, fewer individuals under cardiologist care used generics compared with generalist-only care (75% vs. 81%, P = 0.03; adjusted relative risk 0.89, 95% confidence interval = 0.79-0.99). Overall use of generic beta-blockers was 86.6%; thiazides, 92.0%; ACE inhibitors, 59.0%; CCB, 55.5%; alpha-blockers 47.7%. In adjusted analysis, generic CCB use occurred 34% less often among cardiologist versus generalist-only patients.
Older patients of generalists and, to a greater extent, cardiologists, often use brand-name drugs when generic equivalents are available. Promoting generic prescribing among specialists and generalists may increase opportunities for patients and third-party payers to reduce spending on prescription drugs.

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