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No difference between generic and brand-name antidepressants Posted 17/06/2011

Patients who start treatment for depression with generic drugs benefit from significantly lower costs and are just as likely to keep taking their medication as those who start on brand-name medicines new research suggests.

According to the study of researchers Anna Vlahiotis et al. [1], they found that patients starting generic antidepressants stopped taking their medication in 44.2% of cases, compared to 46.8% of patients taking brand-name antidepressants.

Drug costs for those starting on generics were found to be 43.7% lower for generic compared to brand-name antidepressants (US$174 vs US$309). Total healthcare costs were also found to be lower for those using generics, averaging US$3,660 in patients starting on a generic compared to US$4,587 for those starting on a brand-name drug.

Critics of generic medication use suggest that some generic antidepressants are not as safe or effective as the brand-name alternatives. However, this study shows that generic antidepressants offer the same level of compliance among patients, as well as providing significant drug cost savings compared with brand-name antidepressants.

The series of two articles that follow present the results obtained by researchers Anna Vlahiotis et al. in their study on antidepressant use.

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1. Vlahiotis A, Devine ST, Eichholz J, Kautzner A, et al. Discontinuation rates and health care costs in adult patients starting generic versus brand SSRI or SNRI antidepressants in commercial health plans. J Manag Care Pharm. 2011;17(2):123-32.

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