(HealthDay News) — Prescribing generic instead of brand-name statins may improve adherence to therapy and cardiovascular outcomes in Medicare beneficiaries, according to research published the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Joshua J. Gagne, PharmD, ScD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted an observational, propensity score-matched cohort study of 90,111 Medicare beneficiaries, aged 65 years and older, to assess adherence and cardiovascular (CV) outcomes associated with initiation of therapy with a generic vs. brand-name statin.

Ninety-three percent of patients initiated therapy with a generic statin and 7% initiated therapy with a brand-name statin, the researchers found. Adherence to therapy was higher for the generic group than the brand-name group (average proportion of days covered up to one year, 77% vs. 71%). 

Additionally, the generic group, compared with the brand-name group, was less likely to experience an adverse CV outcome, as measured by a composite outcome of hospitalization for an acute coronary syndrome or stroke and all-cause mortality (HR=0.92; 95%CI, 0.86-0.99). 

The absolute difference between the groups in composite outcome was −1.53 events per 100 person-years (95% CI, −2.69 to −0.19 events per 100 person-years).

“Although these findings require confirmation in other populations, they add to our understanding of the comparative effectiveness of generic medications and the importance of economic factors in medication adherence,” wrote the authors of an accompanying editorial.

Teva Pharmaceuticals funded the study. Several authors disclosed financial ties to CVS Caremark.


  1. Gagne JJ et al. Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(6):400-407.
  2. Cullen W et al. Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(6):447-448.