WebMD Health News
Elizabeth Klodas, MD, FACC
Dec. 2, 2008 -- Brand-name drugs that treat heart
disease aren't better than their FDA-approved generic versions, a new study
The study, published in tomorrow's edition of The Journal of the American
Medical Association, comes from doctors including Aaron Kesselheim, MD, JD,
MPH, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Kesselheim and colleagues pooled data from 47 studies of generic and
brand-name cardiovascular drugs, including beta-blockers, statins, calcium
channel blockers, diuretics, and warfarin. Those studies were published in peer-reviewed
publications between January 1984 and August 2008.
The researchers focused on clinical outcomes -- including heart rate, blood
pressure, illness, and death -- and found no evidence that the brand-name
drugs were superior to the generic drugs.
But Kesselheim's team also read 43 editorials and commentaries published
during the same period and found that 53% of those papers expressed negative
views about switching to generic drugs.
It's not clear why so many editorialists and commentators weren't keen on
switching to generic drugs. Some concern may have come from anecdotal
experience, or from financial ties to drug companies, according to Kesselheim
and colleagues, who themselves note no financial conflicts of interest.
"To limit unfounded distrust of generic medications, popular media and
scientific journals could choose to be more selective about publishing
perspective pieces based on anecdotal evidence of diminished clinical efficacy
or greater risk of adverse effects with generic medications," write the
The Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), an industry group for U.S. pharmaceutical and
biotechnology companies, issued a statement about Kesselheim's study.
"PhRMA has always
supported patients receiving the medicines that are best for them, including
both brand-name medicines and generic drugs," says PhRMA Senior
Vice President Ken Johnson in the statement. He also notes that
"without today's brand-name drugs to legally copy, there would be no
generic drug industry. Worse yet, there would be little hope of finding new
treatments and cures for a wide range of debilitating -- and often deadly --
SOURCE:Kesselheim, A. The Journal of the American Medical Association, Dec.
3, 2008; vol 300: pp 2514-2526.News release, Pharmaceutical
Research and Manufacturers of America.
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