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Generic drugs may cost more or save more, depending on the scope of the study, says a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Drug Pricing: Research on Savings from Generic Drug Use. Spending on prescription drugs totaled $307 billion in 2010, constituting 12% of all health care spending in the United States. To estimate the savings associated with using generic drugs rather than brand-name drugs, the GAO performed a structured literature review, identifying studies that provided estimates of such savings. The studies varied widely in scope, however, and although most showed cost savings, some found that the use of generic drugs could increase health care costs. Despite these mixed results, the potential for cost savings certainly exists-for individuals, private insurers, and federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid-according to John E. Dicken, director of health care for the GAO. For more information, visit