Harvard Heart Letter

Generic versus brand-name statins

Ask the doctor

Q. I have been taking rosuvastatin (Crestor) and found out that it soon will be available as a generic. But even though the active ingredient in a generic drug is the same, can the inactive ingredients change how the drug works?

A. By law, not only do generic drugs have to contain the same active ingredient as the brand-name drug, they must also be identical in strength, dosage form, and administration; work the same way in the body; and meet the same standards for identity, strength, purity, and quality.

Studies have found that generic statins lower cholesterol as well as brand-name drugs. However, it's possible that the inactive ingredients (coloring agents, binders, and preservatives) may change the side effects a person experiences.

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