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Brand-Name Heart Drugs No Better Than Generic

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, December 03, 2008 12:05 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Generic Drugs, Heart Disease, Statins, Beta Blockers


IMAGE SOURCE:© iStockphoto/ pouring pills/ author: VisualField

A new study suggests brand-name drugs used to treat cardiovascular disease (heart disease) are no better than FDA-approved generic drugs.

For the study, Dr. Aaron Kesselheim of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and colleagues gathered data from 47 studies of brand-name and generic cardiovascular drugs, including statins, beta blockers, diuretics, calcium channel blockers and warfarin.

The studies used were published in peer-reviewed publications, including MEDLINE and EMBASE, between January 1984 and August 2008.

Researchers focused on clinical outcomes –- including blood pressure, heart rate, illness and death.

“We found no evidence that brand-name drugs are any better in terms of clinical outcomes than that of generic drugs,” said Kesselheim. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have approved all generic drugs and certify that that they are bioequivalent. In other words, they are equal in all biological and chemical characteristics of the brand-drug, but may differ in terms of the color and/or shape.”

They also reviewed 43 commentaries and editorials published during the same period and found that 53 percent had expressed negative views about switching brand-name drugs with generic drugs.

Some concern may be due to anecdotal experience, or from financial ties to drug companies, according to Kesselheim and colleagues.

Several studies are available supporting generic drug use as an important part of a physicians prescribing treatment. Generic drugs are considerably less expensive and improve patient adherence which in turn leads to better patient outcomes, Kesselheim said.

“For nearly every condition, there is a generic drug available but generics are largely underused because there is a perception among patients and physicians that brand-name drugs are superior to generic.”

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), an industry group for U.S. pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies issued the following statement in response to the study:

“PhRMA has always supported patients receiving the drugs that are best for them, including generic and brand-name medications,” said Ken Johnson, PhRMA Senior Vice President, in a statement. He further notes, “Without today’s brand-name medications to legally copy, the generic industry would cease to exist. Worse yet, there would be little hope of finding new cures and treatments for a host of debilitating – and often times – deadly diseases.”

The statement in its entirety can be read on PhRMA’s Web site.

The study is published in the December 3 edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association. #

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