CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Making a top 10 list is usually an honor, except when the list is for the 10 most expensive brand-name drugs that have generic equivalents.

In a continuing effort to educate consumers about the value of various prescription drugs, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee today released cost comparison information from its approved member drug list. The comparison includes prices for the 10 most costly brand-name drugs verses their generic equivalents.

“Education is the most effective way to keep drug costs affordable for consumers,” said Dr. Terry Shea, director of pharmacy services for BlueCross. “Many people don’t realize that despite their clinical equality, generic drugs cost, on average, 50 percent less than intensely marketed brand-name medications.”

Making an appearance on the top 10 list is Glucophage, a drug used in the management of type-2 diabetes. The average cost of Glucophage is $90.38. Its generic equivalent is Metformin HCL, which costs $38.26, a savings of 57.7 percent.

According to the BlueCross white paper Rx for Pharmacy Costs: Message in a Bottle, the current fixed co-payment structure for prescriptions shields patients from understanding the true costs of their medications.

For example, highly advertised drugs such as Celebrex and Vioxx for arthritis can cost between $70 and $100 per month. But, most health care consumers think their prescriptions cost only $25, the cost of their average co-pay.

“Someone is paying that higher price tag and that someone is the consumer who, in turn, pays higher rates on health plans,” Shea said. “But by choosing generics, a person can save more than 20 percent on out-of-pocket costs at the drugstore and help keep health plan costs from rising so quickly.”

In addition to the cost comparison information, BlueCross recently piloted a generic drug coupon for more than 4,000 of its members. The one-time use coupon allows selected members to waive the co-pay on a generic equivalent of their current prescription.

The company identified several commonly used brand-name medications, including Prozac, Xanax and Zantac, which have equally safe and effective generic equivalents. The coupons and accompanying information were then mailed to BlueCross members, encouraging them to talk to their pharmacist about a brand to generic switch.

Members can redeem their co-pay waivers at local participating retail pharmacies through Dec. 31.

“All our initiatives are designed to show consumers and BlueCross members that generics are just as safe and effective as advertised brands,” Shea said. “The only real difference between brands and generics is the price you pay.”

The top 10 list and other Demand Generics campaign materials can be viewed under the “Savings with Generic Drugs” link on www.bcbst.com.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.