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You can't buy good health but you can buy good health information. Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School:

Is generic atorvastatin as good as brand-name Lipitor? from the Harvard Health Letter

In the February issue of the Harvard Health Letter, Editor in Chief Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff answers a question that’s on a lot of people’s minds these days: is atorvastatin, the generic version of the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, as good as the brand-name drug?

Generic atorvastatin became available for the first time in November 2011 after Lipitor lost its patent protection.

In his answer, Dr. Komaroff notes that the FDA is legally required to determine that generics are “bioequivalent” to brand-name drugs, which means they produce similar blood concentrations of the same chemicals.

“Many independent researchers have also compared generics with brand-name drugs, and the vast majority of them have concluded that generics are just as safe and effective,” Dr. Komaroff says in the Health Letter, citing research by his Harvard colleague Dr. Aaron Kesselheim and others.

Generics are produced in other countries, and overseas manufacturers do make mistakes, Dr. Komaroff notes. “But that’s also true of U.S.-based manufacturers,” he continues. “The FDA does regulate the manufacture of all drugs sold in the United States, which is reassuring, but I also believe the FDA hasn’t been given the budget it needs to adequately carry out its responsibilities. So I can’t give you an absolute guarantee that generic atorvastatin will be equal to brand-name Lipitor.

“But I can tell you this: I take Lipitor, and I’ll be switching to generic atorvastatin, so I will be following my own advice (something my wife has suggested that I should do more often).”

Read the full-length article: "Ask the doctor: Are generics as good as brand-name drugs?"

Also in this issue of the Harvard Health Letter

  • Here's a trio of suggestions for enjoying good health
  • A good grilling: Answering FAQs about our Healthy Eating Plate
  • Warfarin, diabetes drugs cause emergency hospitalization among the elderly
  • Cold out? Why you need to wear a hat!
  • What is a tailor's bunion?
  • &%!!# helps when you're hurting
  • Conversation with a Harvard doctor: Talking about heart failure
  • Niacin + a statin does not add up to benefit
  • Ask the doctor: Is there a connection between diabetes and sleep apnea?
  • Ask the doctor: Are generics as good as brand-name drugs?

More Harvard Health News »

About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.