Introduction: Despite recent concerns over the effectiveness and safety of atypical antipsychotics compared with first-generation antipsychotics, prescribing of atypical antipsychotics continues to increase. The use of generic atypical antipsychotics is one way to address cost concerns, especially if there are no major differences in outcomes between generic and originator formulations. Market forces do appear to help lower prices if patients have to cover any difference between higher priced generics and originators and the current reference-priced products themselves, which they try to avoid, and if companies strive to gain market share. However, this approach may compromise individualizing atypical choice if reference classes consist of several atypicals between which there are significant co-payment differences. Objectives: First, to assess whether differences in patient co-payment levels between the various atypical antipsychotic formulations alter the atypical formulation prescribed and/or dispensed in practice in Poland. Second, to assess whether market forces in Poland help drive down generic prices in reality as successive generics are launched. Third, to assess the impact of the reduction in reference prices on the overall expenditure on atypicals by the National Health Fund in Poland. Methods: Prescription and reimbursed expenditure data for olanzapine and risperidone were provided by the National Health Fund from 2002 to 2006, although no individual patient data were available. Reimbursement limits for the various presentations of olanzapine and risperidone were based on regulations from the Ministry of Health. Results: Analysis of the data showed that the level of patient co-payment appeared to impact on the atypical antipsychotic dispensed, with utilization of olanzapine growing once its co-payment was reduced when generic olanzapine became available. The reverse was seen with risperidone, with only limited growth in utilization when co-payment levels increased. Market forces resulted in a 40% reduction in the reimbursed reference price (based on the defined daily dose) of olanzapine and a 77% reduction for risperidone from 2002 to July 2008. These price reductions helped moderate the growth in atypical expenditure in Poland despite appreciably increased utilization, especially for olanzapine. Continued moderation (or even a reduction) in the growth of expenditure on atypicals is envisaged, despite increasing utilization, as more generic formulations are launched, with further reductions in the reference price for both olanzapine and risperidone. Conclusions: Market forces appear to drive down the prices of generics and originators as more atypical formulations are launched. However, alternative approaches may be needed if significant co-payment differences compromise individualized care.
- Antipsychotics general