Generics Come Out on Top Over Canadian Brand Drugs

Published Online: Monday, March 1, 2004

While Americans are hopping onto buses to buy drugs from Canada in the hopes of saving money, new research by the FDA sheds some light on this expectation. The report claims that Americans could pay significantly more for drugs in Canada than if they bought generic versions here at home.

Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, FDA commissioner, believes that, for many people, buying US generics is a risk-free alternative to imports and could reduce their pharmacy bill.

To back his argument, the FDA evaluated price data culled by IMS Health. The data included 7 drugs whose generic versions are top-selling treatments for chronic disease: the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac); blood pressure medicines metoprolol (Lopressor), lisinopril (Prinivil), and enalapril (Vasotec); alprazolam (Zanax) for anxiety; clonazepam (Klonopin) for seizures; and metformin (Glucophage) for diabetes.

For the study, the agency used the price that pharmacies paid for each drug in 2002, the latest full year for which prices from both countries were available from IMS. The study measured average price per milligram. When comparing both brand name and generic versions in Canada, the US generics were far less expensive for all but Glucophage, the study showed.

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