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Life and Health


By October 1, 2011No Comments

Consumers who are willing to accept the generic form of popular medication brands will soon have the benefit of saving hundreds or thousands of dollars. During the following two years, six of the 10 most popular drugs will lose their patents. This means that other companies are free to make the medications and sell them. By doing this, they could provide up to an 80% discount for buyers.

To illustrate an example, consider the drug Lipitor, which is a substance used to lower cholesterol. It has been one of the world’s top-selling drugs in previous years. Its patent expires in November. The drug’s generic equivalent is atorvastatin. Once the patent has expired, millions of people will be purchasing atorvastatin, which will provide a new way for generic drug manufacturers to increase their sales greatly.

Zyprexa, Enbrel and Plavix are also facing upcoming patent expiration. Zyprexa is an anti-psychotic drug that has been selling well for several years. However, the patent expires in October. Plavix, which is a blood thinner, has a patent that will expire in May, 2012. Enbrel is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. Its record sales will end in October of 2012 when the patent expires.

One issue that has been debated during the past several years is whether generic drugs are as good as brand-name drugs. The Federal Drug Administration reports that generic drugs have the same quality, purity, strength and stability as popular brands. An upcoming publication in International Angiology will show that astorvastatin is just as effective as Lipitor. This article is based on official studies conducted to compare the two drugs.

There is one negative issue surrounding generic drugs, which is an uneven safety record. In 2008, the generic blood thinner called heparin was recalled by Baxter Healthcare. They found that the drug was contaminated. More than 80 people in the United State and Germany died after ingesting the tainted medication. Although it’s uncertain how many of these deaths were actually caused by the drug, the discovery was detrimental to the company and generic drug sales.

Several studies have shown that some generics don’t perform the same way brand-name drugs do. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported in April that there is about a 10% chance that switching from a brand to generic anti-epilepsy medication could alter the peak concentration of the drug reaching the body. This means that the cost isn’t the only difference between the two types of drugs. Due to rulings in June from the Supreme Court, consumers are no longer able to sue the creators of prescription drugs for any side effects or complications that aren’t indicated on the label. Switching to generics isn’t necessarily a bad idea. However, it’s important to be cautious when making the switch.