Popular brand-name drugs to go generic
Dear Savvy Senior,
I’ve heard that the drug Lipitor and a few other popular brand name medications will soon be available in cheaper generic form. What can you tell me?
It’s true. Generics for Lipitor and a slew of other brand name drugs will soon be coming down the pipeline, and the savings to consumers will be significant. Here’s what you should know.
Expiring drug patents
Over the next two years, the patents of many top-selling brand name drugs will be expiring, clearing the path for lower-cost generics to take their place. One of the biggest is the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, which earned the pharmaceutical company Pfizer more than $5.3 billion in U.S. sales last year. The patent for Lipitor ends in November, so starting on Nov. 30, 2011, generic manufacturer Ranbaxy Laboratories, will have the exclusive right to sell Lipitor’s generic (Atorvastatin) in the U.S. for six months. At that point, other generic drug makers can enter the market to sell it.
Some other prominent drugs facing patent expiration this year include: Protonix, the popular antiacid drug which went off patent in January and is now offered in the generic format Pantoprazole; Concerta, the ADD and ADHA medicine whose patent ends this month (May); Levaquin, the antibiotic drug whose patent expires in June; and Zyprexa, the antipsychotic drug prescribed for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder which comes off patent in October.
In 2012, some popular drugs set to lose their patents include: Plavix, the anti-clot/blood thinning drug which is prescribed to prevent heart attack and stroke; the asthma and allergy drug Singulair; Seroquel which is used to treat a variety of mental health issues from depression to bipolar disorder to schizophrenia; the type 2 diabetes medication Actos; and Enbrel, which is prescribed for arthritis and psoriasis.
It is, however, important to note that the expiration of some of these drug patents doesn’t guarantee that less-expensive generic drugs will immediately become available. Pharmaceutical companies have methods they can employ to extend the patent and stave off generic competition.
When a brand name drug does finally come off patent, its generic substitute is usually only about 30 percent cheaper at first, but as more generic drug makers start manufacturing it, the costs can drop by as much as 90 percent. On average, generic drugs are about 70 percent cheaper than brand name medications.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, generic drugs contain the same active ingredients, dosage and quality as their brand name counterparts. The differences lie in the name (generic drugs are usually called by their chemical names), shape and color (U.S. trademark laws don’t allow generics to look exactly like the brand-name drugs).
If you’re currently taking an expensive brand name drug, and aren’t sure if it’s available in generic form, ask you doctor or pharmacist or you can look it up online at sites like destinationrx.com. If there’s not a generic counterpart for your particular drug, find out if there’s a generic option available in the same class of medications that would work for you. For example, some people who take Lipitor opt for the less-expensive Simvastatin, the generic form of Zocor. Both Lipitor and Zocor lower cholesterol.
Many chains like Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Kmart, CVS, Walgreens and Kroger sell hundreds of generics for as little as $4 for a 30-day supply and $10 for a 90-day supply.
Savvy Tip: If you’re having a hard time affording your medications, there are drug assistance programs offered through pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and charitable organizations that may be able to help you. Visit www.benefitscheckup.org to find them.
Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC “Today” show and author of The Savvy Senior book. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit http://SavvySenior.org .
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Atascosa County Craft Show is Nov. 12 (October 26, 2016)
Baptist church to offer holiday decorating ideas (October 26, 2016)
Boldtville church plans fair, barbecue (October 26, 2016)
Dobie Dichos kicks off Storyfest (October 26, 2016)
Don’t miss tricks or treats at ‘The Dark Side of F Street’ (October 26, 2016)
DRT plans 125th anniversary celebration (October 26, 2016)
Egg cups (October 26, 2016)
Enjoy Hallelujah Night in Kenedy (October 26, 2016)
Enjoy spooky fun at Haunted Harvest Fest (October 26, 2016)
Enjoy ‘unusual’ Halloween Concert in Boerne (October 26, 2016)
Floresville Opry gets set for monthly schedule (October 26, 2016)
How much does a funeral cost? (October 26, 2016)
Kicaster Cemetery fund-raiser is Oct. 29 (October 26, 2016)
Labatt Club enjoys salad demo at October meeting (October 26, 2016)
Letters from Wilson County, Part I (October 26, 2016)
LV Band Boosters Pancake Breakfast (October 26, 2016)
New book celebrates Spurs Nation (October 26, 2016)
Plan for St. Mark Fall Festival (October 26, 2016)
See ‘A Brush With Color’ (October 26, 2016)
Show Barn Country Dance (October 26, 2016)
Three Oaks Senior Dinner is Nov. 2 (October 26, 2016)
Tips to get your teen to eat more fruits and vegetables (October 26, 2016)
Turkey Dinner Nov. 6 at St. Jerome (October 26, 2016)
Ways to support the bereaved at holiday time (October 26, 2016)
What every Spurs fan should know (October 26, 2016)
Zumba for a cause Oct. 29 (October 26, 2016)
A creepy Halloween party appetizer (October 19, 2016)
Applying for Social Security (October 19, 2016)
Chili Cook-off to benefit Wilson County youth (October 19, 2016)
DRT joins Heritage Music Festival (October 19, 2016)
DRT to meet Oct. 24 in Kerrville (October 19, 2016)
Enjoy Harvest Festival in Marion (October 19, 2016)
Enter Pecan Bake Show (October 19, 2016)
Little Golden Books (October 19, 2016)
Make plans for Halloween fun and fall fests (October 19, 2016)
Meeting the needs of the community: St. Vincent de Paul (October 19, 2016)
R&B legend opens Carver season Oct. 29 (October 19, 2016)
Readers share their spooky tales, part two (October 19, 2016)
Road Runners plan Oct. 22 group run (October 19, 2016)
See country legends Oct. 22 (October 19, 2016)
Try your hand at square dancing (October 19, 2016)
Turn yard waste into gardener’s gold (October 19, 2016)
Baptist church to ring in 100 years (October 12, 2016)
Church plans Junk and Treasure Sale (October 12, 2016)
Comal Country Music Show is Oct. 18 (October 12, 2016)
Davy Crockett (October 12, 2016)
Enjoy fried chicken in Poth Oct. 23 (October 12, 2016)
Enjoy this flashy winter resident (October 12, 2016)
Join in the 2016 Rosary Crusade (October 12, 2016)
National Charity League plans celebration (October 12, 2016)
New program increases student knowledge of E-cigarette dangers (October 12, 2016)
Play bunco in La Vernia Oct. 22 (October 12, 2016)
Pondering a poignant letter from the past (October 12, 2016)
Save the date for Oct. 22 March for Life (October 12, 2016)
Should you redeem old savings bonds? (October 12, 2016)
Show Barn Cook-off approaching (October 12, 2016)
Sutherland Springs Old Town Day (October 12, 2016)
The business of aging grows more complex (October 12, 2016)
Try your luck at China Grove Lions Club Casino Night (October 12, 2016)
Atascosa County Craft Show seeks vendors (October 5, 2016)
Beautify your landscape with cacti (October 5, 2016)
Experience Oktoberfest in San Antonio (October 5, 2016)
Gilded peanuts and golden memories — recalling past Floresville Peanut Festivals (October 5, 2016)
Japan Fest set for Oct. 16 (October 5, 2016)
Meal service delivery options for seniors who don’t cook (October 5, 2016)
Oktoberfest comes to Floresville Oct. 15 (October 5, 2016)
Past Pirate champions will never be forgotten (October 5, 2016)
Readers share their ‘spooky’ tales (October 5, 2016)
Sacred Springs PowWow (October 5, 2016)
Shorter teapot (October 5, 2016)
Sinatra tribute comes to Kerrville (October 5, 2016)
Stockdale librarian updates Blue Bonnet Club members (October 5, 2016)
Sunnyside 4-H Bake Sale (October 5, 2016)
Time for turkey in Cestohowa (October 5, 2016)