September 15th, 2014

Cheaper Generic Statins Beat Brand-Name Statins in Adherence and Outcomes

A large observational study finds that people who received a prescription for a generic statin were more likely to take their pills than people who received a prescription for a brand-name statin. This increased adherence appeared to lead to a small but significant improvement in outcomes.

In a paper published in Annals of Internal Medicine, Joshua Gagne and colleagues at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and CVS Caremark (the study was funded by generic manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals) compared data from 83,731 people who started a prescription for a generic statin with 6,380 people who started a prescription for a brand-name drug. They found that adherence,  as measured by the proportion of days covered (PDC) up to one year, was significantly higher in the generic group than in the brand-name group (average PDC: 77% versus 71%, p<0.001). The patients in the generic statin group also had a corresponding 8% reduction in the incidence of death and hospitalization for an acute coronary syndrome, which the authors calculated led to a reduction of 1.53 events per 100 person-years.

The mean copayment for the prescriptions was $10 in the generic group and $48 in the brand-name group. “Our finding that adherence is greater with generic statins than with brand-name statins is therefore not surprising and is consistent with other studies that have shown a direct relation between higher copayments and lower adherence.”

In an accompanying editorial, Walter Cullen and Patrick Murray write that the authors “make the distinction between generic and brand-name drugs, but the operating factor for patients is affordability.”



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