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Popular cholesterol drugs will go generic, saving consumers billions

April 19, 2006

Two Brand-Name Cholesterol Drugs Slated to go Generic Soon;
Consumers Union Analysis Details Massive Savings to Consumers

Statins among Most-Widely Prescribed Drugs in Nation

(Washington, D.C.) – Two brand-name versions of the most widely prescribed medicine in the country will go generic soon, signaling a major potential cost savings for consumers and the health-care industry that could total in the billions of dollars each year.
The cholesterol-lower statin Pravachol (pravastatin) is scheduled to go generic sometime this month, and Zocor (simvastatin) is slated to follow in June. Statin drugs to treat high cholesterol are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States, and Zocor is the No. 2 best-selling drug in the nation.
Consumers Union and Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs performed a detailed analysis in January showing the potential magnitude of the savings if doctors, consumers and pharmacy benefit managers take advantage of the availability of these less expensive medicines.
The analysis found if Medicare Part D beneficiaries were prescribed effective, lower-cost generic statins to reduce cholesterol instead of higher-priced brands, $8.2 billion could be saved by taxpayers, Medicare drugs plans, and Medicare beneficiaries in 2007 alone. The statin analysis can be found at http://www.crbestbuydrugs.org/PDFs/StatinAnalysis.pdf.
Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs (www.CRBestBuyDrugs.org) also has identified “Best Buy” statins for lowering cholesterol based on an independent review of the scientific evidence. They include generic lovastatin for moderate cholesterol reduction.
The statin report compares the seven statins now available, including Vytorin, the latest entry in the statin market, and can be found at http://www.crbestbuydrugs.org/drugreport_DR_Statins.html.
Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs is a FREE grant-funded public information project administered by Consumers Union to help patients, in consultation with their doctors, find effective, safe, and affordable medicines. The project is supported by the Engelberg Foundation, a private philanthropy, and the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health.

Contact: Steven Findlay, CU, 202-462-6262