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Generic Heart Drugs as Good as Brand-Name Counterparts
Date:12/2/2008

Review found most were as effective, despite editorials urging opposite

TUESDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Brand-name drugs used to treat cardiovascular disease are no better than generics, a new review of available evidence shows.

Yet a number of editorials in medical journals, written by specialists, have urged against substituting the less expensive generics for their designer counterparts.

"We found no evidence that brand-name drugs are any better in terms of clinical outcomes than generic drugs," said Dr. Aaron S. Kesselheim, lead author of a study appearing in the Dec. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association and an instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "The FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] has approved all generic drugs and certifies that they are bioequivalent, meaning equivalent in all biological and chemical characteristics of the drug."

The challenge then becomes one of perception, Kesselheim said, with this new paper itself representing "hopefully another step in helping combat the misperception that brand-name drugs are clinically superior," he said.

The findings come closely on the heels of another study which found that there is often little evidence that off-label prescribing (prescribing a drug to treat a disease or condition different from the one it was approved for) is effective or safe.

Generic drugs have the same active ingredient as their brand-name counterparts, but may differ in terms of the color or shape of the pill and some of the inert binders (which are not clinically active).

The advantage to generic medications, of course, is that they cost substantially less.

The developers of drugs are permitted to exclusively market the drug for a finite period of time after its approval, at least partly to recoup the costs of developing the medication. After that time, however, other manufact
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