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Study Questions Rise in Use of Certain Cholesterol Drugs
Date:3/22/2011

acks, although not overall mortality, according to the study. But in those studies, patients took another generic fibrate that's been on the market since the 1980s, called gemfibrozil (which raised some safety concerns when combined with certain statins).

But even though most of the positive data on fibrates has come from that older drug, the news research shows the major growth in prescriptions in the United States has come from fenofibrate -- particularly its more expensive brand-name forms, Jackevicius said.

Use of fibrates has increased steadily in the United States, especially for the brand-name fibrate product. Fenofibrates account for more than $1 billion in U.S. sales, according to background information in the study.

In the study, researchers compared U.S. and Canadian prescription data between January 2002 and December 2009.

In the United States, prescriptions for fibrate medication generally more than doubled -- from 336 prescriptions per 100,000 people in 2002 to 730 prescriptions per 100,000 people in December 2009. The increase in Canada wasn't as steep, from 402 to 474 per 100,000 people.

And in the United States, prescriptions specifically for fenofibrate nearly tripled -- from 150 prescriptions for every 100,000 people in 2002 to 440 for every 100,000 people in 2009. In Canada, fenofibrate's use rose much less steeply, from 321 to 429 per 100,000, the study found.

The researchers also found that physicians tended to prescribe the brand-name drug over generic fenofibrate in the United States, but not in Canada, while costs for fibrates for every 100,000 people were nearly three times higher in the United States than in Canada.

A generic form of fenofibrate has been available in Canada much longer than in the United States, Jackevicius noted.

She said the finding raised a key question for Americans consumers: "Why use the brand name drug if you can use in the less expensive generic?"

Despite the l
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