Cheaper Blood Pressure Drugs: Good as New?

Brand-Name Drugs No Better Than Generics at Lowering Blood Pressure, Reducing Heart Risk.

(ABC News) — Generic blood pressure drugs are just as good as newer, more expensive ones, according to new data out of the study known as the Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT).

When researchers followed up with ALLHAT participants taking one of three classes of blood pressure drugs for an average of 8.8 years, they found that a generic diuretic (chlorthalidone) was just as effective at lowering blood pressure and preventing heart attack and stroke as a name-brand calcium channel blocker (Norvascor) or ACE inhibitor (Prinivil, Zestril).

The only significant differences actually favored the diuretic, reported Dr. Paul Whelton of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., and colleagues. Heart failure hospitalization and fatalities remained lower at 8.8 years with the diuretic compared with the calcium channel blocker. And fatal strokes remained lower compared with the ACE inhibitor.

Whelton presented the results at the China Heart Congress and International Heart Forum in Beijing. Generic diuretics cost $25 to $40 per year compared with up to $300 to $600 annually for newer brand-name hypertension drugs, according to a press release from Loyola.


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