Antidote: generic drugs

Use of generic drugs has grown dramatically in the US, to the point where currently almost 75% of the drugs we use are generic. This train doesn't appear about to stop, in fact just the opposite, as generic use continues to rise. From the point of view of saving healthcare resources this is a good thing, though in many cases, a determination made by an insurance company or the government to mandate a shift to a cheaper drug in the class can lead to avoidable side effects.
A great example of this problem occurs in the class of drugs known as statins. In my experience one statin is not identical to another; these drugs are not interchangeable.  I have treated countless patients who develop muscle aches on one statin but not another; some tolerate Lipitor the best, for others it is Crestor, for still others it is Zocor.  Of the three, only Zocor is available generically, though atorvastatin will have a generic version soon after the patent runs out on Lipitor.
Even when atorvastatin becomes available generically it won't suddenly offer us a one-size-fits-all cost effective choice. As a practicing internist, I need choices; my 45-year-old fireman patient with marked reflux disease shouldn't be denied relief just because Nexium works for him and Protonix doesn't, yet only Protonix is covered by his insurance.
Patients are individuals, what works for one doesn't always work for another, even when you expect it will. Doctors and politicians and pundits must remember this, even as we all seek to reign in out of control healthcare costs.
Marc Siegel MD is a professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical correspondent
You must be a registered member of MMM to post a comment.

Next Article in Features

Email Newsletters

What does going "beyond the pill" actually mean? At MM&M's recent inaugural spring conference, audience members heard from real-world companies that are managing the organizational, technological, and promotional challenges inherent in this transition, such as partnering with health neophytes, harnessing technologies that allow deeper engagement with patients, and adopting a new commercial mindset to serve, not sell. Download here.

A wave of more effective anti-cancer drugs has set the oncology world on fire with enthusiasm. While many hail this as a new era, an equally vocal faction questions the money spent for the value gained. This medical and commercial trend report for marketers of anti-cancer modalities touches on many of the latest shifts that have expedited product launches and otherwise impacted promotion and reimbursement of these drugs. Click here.