This summer, generic versions of two statins, Pravachol and Zocor, will be sold at prices lower than what the brand names now command, reports the May issue of the Harvard Heart Letter.
If you have been taking Pravachol or Zocor, switching to a generic version of the same drug makes sense, says the Harvard Heart Letter. Generic drugs are the same as the brand-name version in all but looks, inactive ingredients, and price. By law a generic drug must
- contain the same active ingredients as the brand-name drug
- be identical in strength, dosage, and administration
- work the same way in the body
- meet the same standards for quality
- be made by the same rules the FDA has set for the brand-name drug.
The difference? Generic drugs cost less.
What if you are taking a statin that doesn’t yet have a generic equivalent, such as Crestor, Lescol, or Lipitor? Although the statins are chemically different, they all lower total and LDL cholesterol. Insurers will almost certainly try to move people to generics, states the Harvard Heart Letter. However, some statins are more powerful than others. If you need to ratchet your cholesterol way down, talk with your doctor to see if going generic makes sense.
So far, Americans haven’t been that good about switching from costly brand-name drugs to less expensive but equally effective generics. With effective generic statins on the market, maybe it’s time to make the switch.
Also in this issue:
- Diets that lower blood pressure
- Heart disease when arteries are clear
- Safety questions on bypass drug
- Heart failure: longer survival, more cases
- Carbon monoxide poisoning and heart health
- Coffee and blood flow
- Procedures for atrial fibrillation
- A doctor answers: Can fried fish be good for my heart? And, MRIs and stents
Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.