Generics Are as Good as Branded Drugs’

There is no evidence that brand-name drugs given to treat heart and other cardiovascular conditions work any better than their cheaper generic counterparts, US researchers said.
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The findings run counter to the perception by some doctors and patients that pricier brand-name drugs are clinically superior, said Aaron Kesselheim of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the study.

Kesselheim and colleagues combined the results of 30 studies done since 1984 comparing nine sub-classes of cardiovascular drugs to generic counterparts.

The brand-name drugs did not offer any advantage for patients’ clinical outcomes in those studies, they wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Brand-name drugs for cardiovascular disease can be as much as a few dollars a pill, whereas generic drugs might be as little as a few cents a pill,” Kesselheim said.

“If a patient is prescribed a generic drug because that’s what’s appropriate for their condition, then they should feel confident taking that drug. And physicians themselves should also feel confident prescribing generic drugs where appropriate,” Kesselheim said. He said rising costs of brand-name prescription drugs strain the budgets of patients as well as public and private health insurers. Overall US prescription drug sales hit $286.5 billion in 2007.

Pharmaceutical companies retain exclusive rights to drugs they develop for a certain number of years, after which others can sell generic versions that are chemically equivalent. The active ingredient is the same, but the colour and shape may differ and they may have different inert binders and fillers.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration must approve a generic version of a drug before it can be sold. Kesselheim said cardiovascular drugs to treat conditions of the heart and blood vessels are the most commonly prescribed category.

The study covered beta-blockers, diuretics, calcium-channel blockers, statins, antiplatelet agents, ACE inhibitors, alpha-blockers, anti-arrhythmic agents and warfarin.

Sources: The Times Of India

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