Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What's in a (Drug) Name?

news you may not know

Yes - Names Are a Bit Pricey ...

Names are important. That's why we have public gushings of, "Oh, what a great name" paired with private proclamations of, "Can you believe they named her that?!" So, yes-we bless or curse our children while they are still too feeble to retaliate, hoping that somehow the goofy moniker will grow on them before they reach their growth spurt years.

But, should a name matter when it comes to medications?

The answer appears to be no-or yes, depending upon whom you ask.

The debate over name brand and generic medications is long and bloody. The most recent certainly won't settle the issue, but it does appear to be good news for cardiovascular patients. An analysis of 30 studies, dating back to 1984, found no difference in name brand and generic medication outcomes when treating heart related illness.

The study assessed a wide array of cardiovascular medications, including beta-blockers, statins, calcium-channel blockers, and ACE inhibitors.

The cost ramifications are significant. Brand name medications can be scores of times more costly than the generics, often making an already difficult medical situation intolerable. But, prior to reports such as this, many patients-and many doctors-have been hesitant to use generic medications.

To put it in some perspective, consider this. Over 65 percent of the medications dispensed annually in the United States are for generics. Yet, this represents a mere 15 percent of the annual expenditure on all medications. Yes-this is a huge issue.

So, while it's certainly no time to set up your own little basement pharmacy to shave costs, you may want to take a serious look at generics. If you're dealing with a cardiovascular issue, the results may be pretty much the same.

Oh, yes-please let the counter arguments commence...

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about generic medications, see this from the U.S. Office of Generic Drugs.


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