If your doctor has been using scare tactics to encourage you to use brand name medications for your heart, you’re probably listening to him or her. Chances are, you’re spending the extra money on the exact drugs used in the studies. After all, who wants to risk a heart attack?
Don’t blame this all on your doctor. Drug companies are spreading inaccurate rumors to doctors, to the media, to anyone who will listen. Some drug manufacturers have suggested that generic drugs could be less effective and less safe. They would like you to believe that brand name drugs are superior to their generic counterparts.
Well, they’re not.
A group of scientists at Harvard Medical School took a look at 20 years of research on generic vs brand name drugs for heart disease. They limited this information to peer-reviewed studies that compared their effectiveness and safety. Here’s what they found:
Generic drugs for the heart were clinically equivalent to brand names 100% of the time for beta blockers, statins, and other heart-related conditions.
Still, when they looked at dozens of medical-journal editorials, these same researchers found that more than 50% suggested that generic drugs weren’t as good as brand name drugs. And doctors pay attention to these comments.
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However, I’m not so sure they would embrace these negative views of generics if they knew one important factor: The authors of some of these editorials receive financial compensation from pharmaceutical companies that make brand name drugs. If they knew this, would they believe the comments? It’s hard to say. But some undoubtedly would not.
Here’s what you can do if your doctor prescribes a medication for your heart. Ask whether it’s a brand name or generic. Then ask about its bioequivalence rating from the FDA. When two drugs are bioequivalent, it means their active ingredients act the same. If that’s the case, the generic drug is just as good as — but cheaper than — the brand name drug.
Of course, before you go to this trouble, I suggest you look at options other than any drugs at all. I’ve written extensively on nutrients, formulas, and lifestyle changes that can eliminate the need for medications. Go to my website and search for these articles. Make a few lifestyle changes. Then ask your doctor whether or not you really need a drug.
If you’ve waited too long and do need medication immediately, do a little research on natural solutions, add them to your regime, and get another evaluation from your doctor in six months. Work with your physician to get healthy enough so you don’t need medications — either brand names or generic.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
"Clinical Equivalence of Generic and Brand-Name Drugs Used in Cardiovascular Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta- analysis." Aaron S. Kesselheim; Alexander S. Misono; Joy L. Lee; Margaret R. Stedman; M. Alan Brookhart; Niteesh K. Choudhry; William H. Shrank. JAMA. Vol 300, No 21, pp 2514-2526, December 3, 2008.