Usage of generic medicines in England and Wales increased to more than three-quarters of all NHS prescriptions in 2013 according to the latest figures supplied by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
Based on these data, generic medicines now save the NHS nearly £12.3billion* annually, according to the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA), which represents more than 90% of the UK supply market. This is up from a saving in 2012 of nearly £11bn.
Warwick Smith, Director General of the BGMA, said: "These NHS figures underline the importance of the generics industry in the UK which provides crucial financial savings for the NHS allowing investment into new medicines. As well as the savings, the uptake of generics also increases patient access to vital medicines.
"The competitive, multi-source market of the UK continues to deliver significant benefits ensuring the right medicines are delivered at the right time to the right patients."
The increase in generic prescriptions in 2013 was driven in part by the on-going impact of several large volume originator products losing patent protection, such as atorvastatin which helps to reduce the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes.
Competition from generic manufacturers of the medicine - brand name Lipitor™ - delivered the greatest decrease in cost of any medicine over the last year, a £124.2 million decrease from £166.6 million in 2012 to £42.4 million in 2013.
It also saw the greatest increase in the number of items dispensed, from 12.8 million in 2012 to 18.3 million in 2013, an increase of 5.5 million items. So generic competition allowed more than 40% of additional patients to receive this medicine whilst reducing the cost to the NHS by almost 70%.
Warwick Smith added: "While focusing on the savings, it is also important to recognise that this allows the NHS to make further investment into the next generation of medicines and encourages greater innovation and research."