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Some parents of children with attention deficit disorder got a welcome surprise last month. If they went to refill a prescription of Intuniv, a popular ADD treatment, they discovered that its monthly cost had dropped by 80 percent. The reason: The patent on the drug had expired at the end of 2014, and the generic was available.

The process of using generic substitutes for expensive prescription drugs can be speeded up even more, saving U.S. consumers billions of dollars a year. This opportunity comes from an unusual source: the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty.

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