Generic statin drugs help keep older people healthier than their brand-name counterparts—not because they’re better, but simply because people are more likely to take the cheaper drugs, suggests a Harvard study published in September 2014 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
It looked at records of 90,000 Medicare beneficiaries with drug coverage who started taking statins, which are used to lower cholesterol. People who got generic statins were 8 percent more likely to adhere to the drugs, which translated into an 8 percent greater reduction in heart attacks, unstable angina, and deaths over a one-to three-year period. The average copays were $10 for generics and $48 for brand-name statins.
Many studies have shown that higher copays result in lower adherence (people not filling prescriptions or skipping doses) and that full clinical benefits are achieved only when drugs are taken consistently.