Generic Statins Were Shown to Be More Effective than Brand-Name Statins

According to a new study.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have found that patients have better health outcomes with generic statins as opposed to brand-name statins. This, of course, is interesting because generic drugs usually cost less than brand-name.

Statins, which BWH says are the most frequently prescribed drugs in the U.S., are effective in “reducing cardiovascular events.” However, like many medications, if the drugs are not taken properly, patients will not receive the full benefit. That’s why researchers from BWH, Harvard Medical School, and CVS Health investigated whether using generic or brand-name statins can play a role in whether or not people use their medications properly, and if this can lead to improved health outcomes.

Interestingly, the researchers found that “patients taking generic statins were more likely to adhere to their medication and also had a significantly lower rate of cardiovascular events and death.” These findings were published September 15 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Our study is the first to investigate whether generic versus brand-name statins play a direct role in improving health outcomes,” explained Joshua J. Gagne, assistant professor of medicine in BWH’s Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics and lead author of this study. “Patients will only get the full clinical benefit of their medications if they take them, and our study found that patients are more likely to take generic statins than brand-name versions, which have a higher associated cost.”

According to the study:

The researchers used electronic data from medical and pharmacy claims and looked at Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years or older with prescription drug coverage between 2006 and 2008. They measured adherence to statin therapy and outcomes comprising of hospitalization for an acute coronary syndrome, stroke and mortality. In this head-to-head comparison, they found that patients initiating generic statins were more likely than those initiating brand-name statins to adhere to their prescribed treatment and had an eight percent lower rate of cardiovascular events and death.

“Generic drug use has been widely recognized to reduce patient out-of-pocket costs and payer spending. Among patients in our study, the mean copayment for the generic statin was $10 and $48 for brand-name statins,” Gagne said in a report. “Our finding that adherence is greater with generic statins is consistent with other studies that have shown a direct relation between higher copayments and lower adherence.”

The researchers concluded that using generic statins, rather than brand-name versions, was associated with lower out-of-pocket costs, improved adherence to using the drugs, and improved clinical outcomes.