Harvard Heart Letter

A switch in time saves more than nine

Two popular statins, Pravachol and Zocor, go generic in the summer of 2006, paving the way for significant savings.

Bargain hunters, start your engines! The cost of lowering cholesterol is dropping dramatically for anyone willing to switch from a brand-name statin to a generic version. Pravachol lost its patent protection in April, while Zocor loses its protection in late June. Several companies are poised to sell generic versions of pravastatin (the main ingredient in Pravachol) and simvastatin (the main ingredient in Zocor) at prices lower than what the brand names command. These newcomers join lovastatin — the generic form of Mevacor — which has been on the market since 2001.

If you have been taking Pravachol or Zocor, switching to a generic version of the same drug makes sense. Generic drugs are the same as the brand-name version in all but looks, inactive ingredients, and price. By law, a generic drug must

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