Generic Statins May Be More Beneficial Than Brand Names

Generic statin users were more likely to take their medications as directed and had better health outcomes than those who took brand names

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Generic statins may have more going for them than just being cheaper. Patients may be more likely to take them as directed, and they may keep patients healthier than brand names.

A new study on statin use found that patients who started out using generic statins were more likely to keep taking them.

Patients taking generic statins also had fewer heart health issues and better survival rates than patients who took brand name statins.

"Ask your primary care doctor how to control your cholesterol."

Statins are a group of medicines doctors prescribe to lower high cholesterol. Cholesterol is a type of fat in the blood stream. High levels of it can cause heart disease.

Recently, a research team studied whether patients were more apt to take their statins if they were given generic or brand name statins and the effect that had on their health.

To do this, they studied data on Medicare patients aged 65 and older who were given prescription medicines between 2006 and 2008.

They found 83,731 people who were prescribed generic statins and 6,380 people who took brand names.

The statins used were generic or brand name simvastatin, pravastatin or lovastatin (brand names Zocor, Pravachol and Mevacor, respectively).

The patients were followed for one year, until they had a heart health issue or until the study ended — whichever came first.

The study authors found that 77 percent of the patients on generic statins took them as directed — compared to 71 percent of the patients on brand name statins.

To measure health effects, the researchers studied deaths and hospitalizations due to heart events or strokes in each group. They found that the group taking generic statins had 8 percent fewer of these events than the group taking brand name statins.

The study authors noted that the results of the study may not apply to patients taking brand name statins other than the ones in the study. The authors did not study the effects of medication costs.

Joshua Gagne, PharmD, ScD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, led the study.

The study was published in the September issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Teva Pharmaceuticals funded the study. Teva manufactures some of the statins used in the study.

Review Date: 
September 17, 2014
Last Updated:
September 18, 2014