Brand name drugs no better than generic versions
There is no evidence that brand-name drugs work any better than their cheaper generic counterparts according to US research.
The study combined the results of 30 studies done since 1984 comparing nine sub-classes of cardiovascular drugs to generic counterparts (not those illustrated). The brand-name drugs did not offer any advantage for patients' clinical outcomes in those studies, according to study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The findings run counter to the perception by some doctors and patients that pricier brand-name drugs are clinically superior, said Dr. Aaron Kesselheim of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the study. '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 told Reuters.
He said rising costs of brand-name prescription drugs strain the budgets of patients as well as public and private health insurers. Overall U.S. 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 binders and fillers.
This research covered beta-blockers, diuretics, calcium-channel blockers, statins, antiplatelet agents, ACE inhibitors, alpha-blockers, anti-arrhythmic agents and warfarin.
The researchers said brand-name manufacturers have suggested generic drugs may be less effective and less safe. They also found that many editorials in medical journals questioned whether generic drugs were as good.
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