One of the most expensive heart medications that is frequently used to thin blood after a heart attack or following insertion of a stent finally lost its patent.
Generic Plavix (clopidogrel) is now available at a significantly lower price compared to its brand name counterpart. For many years, Plavix had been the second-bestselling drug around the world.
Plavix tablets cost much as $3-$4 a pill and is taken every day for months and even years.
Just last November, another cardiac drug also lost its patent. Lipitor (atorvastatin) which had been the bestselling drug of all time, is now available in multiple generic formulations.
The Food and Drug Administration stated that it had approved the 300 mg formulation of clopidogrel from Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Gate Pharmaceuticals, and Teva Pharmaceuticals. The 75 mg formulations are also available from several other pharmaceutical companies.
There have been several other newer antiplatelet drugs on the market that were introduced to take over Plavix in the treatment of coronary syndromes. However, the cost of those drugs, prasugrel and tricagrelor, have been prohibitive for most consumers.
With the introduction of generic Plavix, it is very unlikely that these drugs will ever catch on.
Plavix is an excellent blood-thinning drug and significantly lowers the risk of strokes and heart attacks. It works by preventing platelets from clumping in blood vessels.
It is one of the most widely-used medications in patients who undergo stenting and angioplasty of their blood vessels. Patients with peripheral vascular disease also seem to find benefit from Plavix.
It is important that clopidogrel not be combined with the proton pump inhibitor, omeprazole, because co-administration can result in significantly decrease in activity of Plavix.
For consumers with chronic health disorders generic Plavix will be a welcome option. The only people who may not benefit from Plavix are those who have certain genetic factors that affect how the body breaks down the drug.
Patients can be tested for these genetic factors to determine if Plavix is the right treatment for them.