Aug. 9, 2007 -- Americans spend $275 billion a year on prescription medications and most of that is on expensive, brand name drugs.
But in the next five years, 63 of the most popular drugs will be available in a generic version, as patents on some of the most popular medications are set to expire and bring big savings to consumers.
"There's a tidal wave of generic drugs … and we are just in the beginning of that tidal wave," said Laizer Kornwasser of Medco Health Solutions.
Generic alternatives are on average 50 percent cheaper than brand name drugs, and in some cases can be 70 percent cheaper than the brand name version.
Take, for exampl,e the sleeping aid Ambien, which costs $125 for a 30-day supply -- insurance companies typically pay $85, leaving the patient left with a $40 co-pay.
The new generic version goes for $45, insurance companies pay $30 and the patient co-pay is reduced to $15 with a big savings for the patient without a compromise on quality.
The following is a list of some of the most popular drugs which will be available in a generic form by 2012.
Effexor XR (2011)
Diabetes (Type 2)
High Blood Pressure
Toprol XL (2007)