Colonial: Generic Drugs Could Save Thousands

December 2, 2013

The government’s decision to mandate the use of generic drugs could save Bermudians thousands of dollars a year, according to one of the island’s leading providers of health insurance.

Naz Farrow, The Colonial Group’s chief operating officer for health, said: “In the Throne Speech the Government was focusing on some of the issues relating to health care, to control cost and provide equity within the system.”

The Throne Speech stated: “The cost of prescription drugs can be a burden on anyone, whether or not they have health insurance.

“Currently, the island’s medical practitioners are diligent in trying to ensure that their patients have access to generic drugs where appropriate, but the prescribing system can be improved.

“The government will introduce amendments to the Pharmacy and Poisons Act of 1979 which will mandate the prescribing of prescription generic drugs unless the physician specifically requires a trade name product.”

The price comparison table below was provided by Colonial Insurance:


Prescription Price



Prescription Price

28 tabs Zocor 20mg



28 tabs Simvastatin 20mg

$ 41.00

28 tabs Tenormin 50mg



28 tabs Atenolol 50mg


14 tab Augmentin 625



14 tabs Amoxi-Clav 625


28 tabs Coumadin 1 mg


Blood thinner

28 tabs Warfarin 1 mg


3 tabs Zithromax 500mg



3 tabs Azithromycin 500mg


28 tabs Plavix 75mg


Platelet Inhibitor

28 tabs Clopidodrel 75mg


Ms Farrow added: “Overall the generics are less expensive than the brand. In order to be considered a generic, the drug must be able to perform the same function of the brand and the FDA regulates how much variability is acceptable for a drug to be approved as a generic medication to the brand medication.

“There are doctors who do not want to order the generic for certain medications, such as Coumadin versus warfarin in order to better stabilize the INR’s which assist in better stabilizing a patients anticoagulation factor to prevent blood clots in certain medical conditions.

“However, for the majority of people, a generic medication, once you are stabilized on it, is very effective.”

She says the cost of prescription drugs is a significant component of the overall spending within the health care system [the 2012 Acturial report stated that it contributed eight percent of the claims costs in Bermuda], and moves to reduce reliance on brand drugs could make some significant savings.

“I understand a doctor’s reluctance to switch to generic drugs in some instances, however the cost of prescription drugs can be a burden for people, especially the elderly and the unemployed.

“At a time when health care costs are escalating this is an initiative to be welcomed. By itself it will not bring premiums down but it will go a long way towards helping to stabilize them.”

Ms Farrow added: “We are very supportive of the efforts being made by Government to control spiraling health care costs by looking at various factors, such as a greater use of generic drugs.

“And we are committed to working with Government and providing them with support needed to tackle the challenges that are ahead of them.”

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Comments (43)

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  1. Greed Killed Bermuda says:

    I remember when the PLP pushed Generics and then the OBA tried to block it. My how times change when the shoe is on the other foot

    • Mike Hind says:

      I don’t remember this. When was that?

      • Nuffin but da Truth says:

        study the antics of Dreb in the past 14 and you’ll learn.

      • Hmmmmm says:

        It would’ve been lost in the noise of allegations of these drugs coming from India and of a former Minister and a former Premier having an interest in their supply to Bermuda. But never you mind, this idea will now gain some traction because its of who has now spoken about it.

        • Mike Hind says:

          So… when was that?

          • J Starling says:

            I don’t recall the OBA or its predecessors formally opposing the move to generics (will have to check the Hansard), but I do recall anti-PLPers being generally quite hostile to it, and making wild allegations along the lines that ‘Hmmmm’ notes.

            It would have been around early to mid 2011, going by the PLP’s official blurb (if Bernews allows the link) –

            There’s no doubt a Bernews article from that time too.

            • Mike Hind says:

              Thanks for the link to the PLP bringing it up, but, as you mentioned, I don’t recall the OBA trying to block it, hence my question.

            • Sandy Bottom says:

              There are a number of connected issues.

              Generics are already here. Introduced in 2011, unopposed other than for some procedural concerns raised by pharmacists (not by the oba) relating to the safety and proper monitoring of imported generics.

              There was some discussion about Ewart setting up a business to import generics from India, months after he’d had a publicly-funded trip to India where he had met up with the Indian that he planned to go into business with. There was also scepticism about zane’s claim at the time that generic drugs would save Mr and Mrs Bermudian $2,000 a month, as he made the claim without backing it up.

              The issue now is not whether generics will be allowed in, as they are already here. It’s whether insurance companies will be able to dictate that generics must be used where possible. At the moment generics are not always used, even when their use would be perfectly safe.

          • Hmmmmm says:

            2011. Check it out.

            • Mike Hind says:

              Sure thing. Where?

              • Hmmmmm says:

                Useful story in the RG, July 2011.

                • Mike Hind says:

                  To one about when the OBA blocked it, that is.

                  That was the original allegation.

                  • Sandy Bottom says:

                    Don’t waste too much time on it. He’s mischaracterizing (to put it mildly) it as usual.

          • Micro says:

            I vaguely remember noise about it, wasn’t much more than that.

      • Richard says:

        Really you don’t remember when Doctor Brown Was pushing to bring in generic Drugs and the Opposition went crazy lol this its go funny this why people are slowly pulling away from the OBA but I still don’t want to vote for the PLP thats my problem which the only reason the OBA won.

        • Mike Hind says:

          Why is it funny? Why don’t you show a link? What does this have to do with voting for the OBA or PLP?

        • We the people says:

          You are a bit misinformed. The issue wasn’t bringing in generic drugs (as someone pointed out already, generics have been in Bermuda for many years). The issue was that the PLP wanted to bring in generics directly from places like India and Brazil which did not have adequate regulation to ensure the safety of the drugs. The current OBA government policy states that generics can be sold here if they are also approved for sale in Canada, the US and the UK–countries that have effective regulatory bodies.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      The OBA wasn’t opposed to the importation of generic drugs, they were opposed to where the PLP wanted to allow them to come from. Namely countries with the worst track records for drug fraud due to their lax regulation/quality controls and the dangers this poses to health safety.

  2. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    I would never knowingly take a GENERIC drug or pill!

    • Micro says:

      Why is that?

      There is literally no difference between a generic and a brand name drug. The ingredients are exactly the same minus the big pharma names and fancy labels – i.e. instead of paying for the name “Zocor” of which the active ingredient is Simvastatin, you just pay for the Simvastatin buying generic.

      • Hmmmm says:

        “the drug must be able to perform the same function of the brand and the FDA regulates how much variability is acceptable for a drug to be approved as a generic medication to the brand medication.”

        Variability…. wouldn’t touch them …. Until generics have to go through the same clinical trials as the original, I won’t touch them. Who is site auditing their manufacture and ensuring standards on a daily basis through Quality Assurance testing.

        • Sandy Bottom says:

          Generics DO have to go through the same trials as branded drugs. The FDA has to approve every stage of it, every aspect of the manufacturing process, for example, before it can be sold in the USA. But there are large generic manufacturers that get FDA approvals, and make safe versions of branded drugs that perform identical clinical functions.

          • Hmmmm says:

            CLINCAL TRIALS !!!!!!!!!!!!!

            Please read what I wrote.


            Imports to Bermuda are not necessarily governed by the same weight as the US. Would we be sending regulators and specialists on a regular basis to the exporting country or have any weight or influence on their manufacture…NO we would not.

            What is our regulation on drug importation ? I wonder why it was written like that….TO protect.

            • Suzie Quattro says:

              Our regulation on drug importation was written in 2011 and allows the importation of generics. You can thank Zane Desilva for that. There were people at the time that were concerned about how it was handled. For some reason you appear to be unhappy about the criticism that was voiced in 2011 (in posts above), yet you’re voicing the same type of criticism right now.

              As far as I know we do not currently allow for generic imports from India, if that’s your concern. India wasn’t on Zane’s list. It was however on Ewart’s list, of course.

        • Build a Better Bermuda says:

          If you look, you will find that some of the big pharmaceuticals actually produce lines of generics too.

    • sage says:

      Do they make knock off generic drugs ?

    • Toodle-oo says:

      There’s ‘generic pills’ and then there’s generic pills . The above mentioned parliamentary kerfuffle was about two things only .
      The quality of the drugs based on their origin and who was going to become rich off of it. Remember who it was that had not too long prior purchased the largest drug importation company on the island and his said political leanings ?

      Long before it even became an issue my GP put me on ‘generics’ and the insurance company (Colonial) is way better off because they work just fine and Colonial pays less , keeping claim payouts (and premiums) down.
      Colonial is not in the business of buying drugs . Just paying for the insured’s outlay. Why would they object to generics ?

      People who say they’ll never take generics are poorly informed and are costing the system a lot of money .

  3. Hmmmmm says:

    Now that Colonial says it, watch it happen. No questions about who will make money from it, or where its coming from or anything like that. Colonial aka Gibbons speaketh and so let it be done. What a sick place we are sometimes.

  4. Keepin' it Real...4Real! says:

    live natural and you wont need pharmaceuticals…simple solutions again.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      Some people have inherited genetic conditions that all of your ‘healthy living’ will not reduce .

      By any chance, do you think that smoking ‘natural ‘ herb will take care of any of these conditions ?

      Like the ad says , ‘When diet and exercise don’t make a difference’

      • Keepin' it Real...4Real! says:

        sorry but i don’t follow the ads….i follow the truth, which i can see you haven’t found yet…

        • Sandy Bottom says:

          Ok, well it doesn’t affect you then, since you will never need pharmaceuticals.

  5. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Generic drugs made in China and laced with “fillers” such as Ajax and sawdust. No thank you.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      That is what the OBA object to, they wanted to make sure the generics we get come from reputable and regulated markets. Generic does not mean dangerous fillers, poorly regulated markets with bad or no quality control checks is where the danger lies. Remember generics don’t just come from those markets, but they also come from companies in the US, Canada, Europe and other nations where the generics pass through the same rigors as their named counter parts. It makes these generics a little more costly, but safer. You shouldn’t focus on the name, but on the origin when it comes to generics

      • Richard says:

        But China was not on Doctor Brown list if I remember correctly

  6. Catherine DL says:

    I would like to say that people who are counterfeiting drugs are just the same as those counterfeiting tobacco etc, they tend to counterfeit the more expensive versions, to make more money. They can make the boxes and blister packs in seconds to look just like the real thing. Much less profitable for them to make it look generic and sell it for half the cost.

  7. SMH says:

    Don’t assume every one wants generic drugs shoved down their throats. Give choice and let customer decide!!!

    • Sandy Bottom says:

      So is the customer prepared to pay extra to have the full-price branded drug?

    • Mike Hind says:

      They are! It seems to me that this is exactly that… Offering a choice. Nowhere does it say that name brand medicine will be done away with.

      • Suzie Quattro says:

        The suggestion seems to be to make the choice available to physicians, based on the clinical need. If the patient needs a branded drug, he gets a branded drug. If a generic will be just as good for that specific patient, why not have a generic instead.

        We’re all complaining about healthcare costs. This is just a way to reduce costs without reducing the level of care, and without impacting safety.

  8. filobedo21 says:

    The general public should reject this out vehemently, especially if they are from India!