Now You Can Get Pricey Blood Thinning Drug Plavix In Cheaper Generic Form

The Food and Drug Administration has given the go ahead to seven companies to begin producing Plavix in generic form. As someone who has to shell out over $100 for about 10 pills to quarter and force an unwilling, yet sick cat, to take, I am pretty darn excited about this whole situation.

We reported more than a year ago about some drug companies pushing up the prices on their meds, because certain medications’ patents were ending. That end has come for Plavix, which is sure to be a relief for those on the popular drug, says the Associated Press.

Plavix, currently marketed jointly by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Sanofi SA, is taken by millions of people (and some pets!) everyday to prevent heart attacks and strokes, by preventing platelets in the blood from clumping together. Four of the seven companies will be able sell the drug in its 300-milligram dose, given to those who have just had a heart attack. It usually costs users about $200 per month.

Plavix’s makers don’t want to lose customers in what had been a nearly $9 billion a year business for both companies, however, so Bristol-Myers and Sanofi are offering patients a 30-day supply for no more than $37 if they pay with cash, by signing up for a Plavix Choice Card program. No word on whether cats can sign up as well.

Generic versions of Plavix should be available in pharmacies starting immediately.

Previously: Drug Companies Pushing Up Prices In Patent-Ending Panic

FDA OKs multiple companies to sell generic Plavix [Associated Press]

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  1. alisha.hime says:

    Or you could just take an aspirin.

    • framitz says:

      Aspirin is not enough if you have chronic atrial fibrillation, which is one of the primary uses of this drug.

      • Southern says:

        Actually from what I’ve read, it’s not only not approved for atrial fibrillation, but doesn’t even come close to working as well as other drugs such as warafin or coumadin.

        but then, that’s only from quick Google searches and 30 minutes of reading different articles, I’m definitely not a doctor. :)

        • ash says:

          you are right that warfarin (also known as coumadin) is not officially approved for treatment of Afib as a stand alone treatment, but some people will not just tolerate warfarin/coumadin treatment as they have to be very compliant with their diet and regular laboratory testing.
          anyhoo all this stuff is a tangent…in any case, generic clopidogrel will save a lot of consumers money

          • GirlWithGloves says:

            Not paying attention to one’s diet while taking warfarin simply leads one to need more pro-time tests to keep the blood thinness at a therapeutic level. If you don’t want to get a blood test every week, you quickly learn to establish a normal diet. Even then, it’s a blood test; not that hard or difficult to do. I’ve had to do them for almost 10 years now. You have to notify the cardiologist who tracks your care of any new medications. If you’ve always eaten greens everyday, keep eating them everyday. Dosage depends on regularity of your diet and medications.

            There is a multi-vitamin specifically designed for users of warfarin/coumadin called Clotamin. It lacks vitamin K and is designed to fit the dietary supplement needs of a warfarin/coumadin patient. If you still need/want a daily source of vitamin K, add butter to your daily toast. Avoid omega-3 spreads unless you want to freak out your protime lab and cardiologist because your blood is way too thin.

    • ash says:

      Meh. For some conditions, there’s a good deal of evidence that the combo is more useful than aspirin alone. examples
      coronary stents
      intracranial coiling/stenting
      atrial septal defect closure /patent foramen closure
      atrial fibrillation as previous poster mentioned

    • AllanG54 says:

      No you can’t take aspirin. Aspirin is a blood thinner, Plavix is an anti-clotting drug. Especially good for people with stents (like me) so a clot doesn’t form in them.

      • Southern says:

        Asprin is also an anti-clotting agent.

        • Southern says:

          Allen, you might want to do some research on that.. From everything I’m finding on the web, aspirin is just as effective as Plavix for stents as Plavix is, and may even be better..

          It’s not outside the realm of possibility that your doctor has a drug rep in his pocket. :)

          Now I’m certainly not a doctor so I really have no idea what I’m talking about, but just about *everything* I’ve read says that unless someone is just plain allergic to aspirin, there’s really no difference between one and the other. They both have anti-clotting agents (working by keeping platelets from clinging to anything in the veins) and blood thinning capabilities.

          Just saying do some research – it might save ya some money. *Shrug*

          • ash says:

            Current literature certainly does not indicate that monotherapy with aspirin is superior to dual antiplatelet therapy with clopidogrel plus aspirin after coronary stenting. Prior to the introduction of other antiplatelet therapies other than aspirin, aspirin only was used for prevention of bare metal stent thrombosis, but it thrombosis (clot) was still a major problem. Before Plavix was on the market, ticlopidine+aspirin became the standard, but studies such as “Clopidogrel Aspirin Stent International Cooperative Study (CLASSICS)” indicated clopidogrel+ aspirin was superior. The CARESS trial also indicates that clopidogrel+aspirin is superior to apsirin alone for preventing thrombosis of cardiac stents. various other studies indicating use of clopidogrel&aspirin superiority over aspirin in acute coronary syndrome: CURE, PCI-CURE.

            The ACC/AHA guidelines about percutaneous coronary intervention (non-surgically opening up blocked arteries) have indicated use of clopidogrel+aspirin or other combos of aspirin+other antiplatelets after ballooning of blocked coronary arteries for years, other countries/regional associations too

            In other words…you ain’t gonna find interventional cardiologists who say “oh yeah, aspirin alone is better than aspirin+clopidogrel after i ballon someone after a heart attack”

            I have no idea you are finding literature that supports monotherapy of apsirin only after stents or ballooning of arteries with the exception that there are current ongoing studies about the ideal amt of time to do clopidogrel+aspirin then do aspirin indefinitely

            No, I don’t work for the company that manufactures Plavix and aspirin is an awesome drug with many uses. But Plavix certainly isn’t a stupid drug.

  2. PunditGuy says:

    A couple of years too late for me, but welcome news. Would have saved me $80 or so a month for two years.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    So Plavix by itself is a $9,000,000,000 a year drug and drug companies are raising prices and complaining that it is due to government laws and regulations and the need to fund more R&D and yet their profits could fill several tractor trailers full of hundred dollar bills?

  4. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I can’t imagine having to rely on a $200/month drug just to live. I know people who pay more but that number is just mind boggling. Given how expensive prescription riders are on health insurance policies in my state ($200 – $300/month on top of the base premium), I’m guessing it’s pretty common.

    • StarKillerX says:

      And yet is $200 a month really unreasonable for a drug that keeps you alive?

      It’s ironic that people will pay $6-8 for coffee at Starbucks but somehow a medicine and yet take issue if a lifesaving medicine costs the same per day.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        I’m not making any claims on whether it’s a good or bad thing. It’s just hard to fathom paying that much for long periods of time. I can kind of relate — last year, we were paying over $1,000/month just for insurance, plus another $300/month paying down medical debt. If my wife wasn’t able to get back to work quickly, we would have lost our home.

      • who? says:

        $200/month is unreasonable if the choice is between paying $200/month for medicine and $200/month for food or rent. Making a choice between $200/month for medicine and $200/month for Starbucks is a false comparison, because the people who are struggling to pay $200/month for Plavix are not the same people who are standing in line at Starbucks every morning.

        • wildgift says:

          If you’re poor or even of moderate means, the drug companies offer a discounted drug program. They’ll drop the price to 15 or 30 or something like that. They do this as a kind of defensive move – because if none of them did this, the political pressure to nationalize some drugs and make them super-cheap (like cheaper than generics) would grow.

      • drjayphd says:

        What coffee drink is $8 at Starbucks? Seriously, inflation’s doing fine on its own, it doesn’t need any help from people on the Interwebs.

    • fortymegafonzies says:

      Everyone should weigh the costs (both monetary and in terms of quality of life) and benefits. I wish clinicians would do more to educate people about how much their drugs are realistically going to help them. Sometimes the benefit of taking a drug like Plavix is very small compared to the costs. Plavix does have a real benefit in reducing heart attack and stroke in high-risk patients, but it may only be about 9% better than aspirin. Further, the absolute risk reduction may only about 0.25%, which means in terms of real numbers, you would expect to prevent about one heart attack each year if you treated 400 people with Plavix instead of aspirin. So that works out (at $200/mo with 400 patients) to roughly $1 million dollars spent on Plavix to prevent one heart attack or stroke. If it’s worth or not is a question that’s up in the air.

      *9% and 0.25% figures are from the 1996 CAPRIE trial

      **just an explanation of absolute versus relative risk: If Bob usually pays 30% income tax but gets a tax break that changes his rate to 15%, he has had a relative reduction of 50% (his tax was cut in half), but an absolute reduction of 15% (his rate was reduced by 15 percentage points)

  5. AldisCabango says:

    Thats good as long as the generic works as well as the name brand. That is not always the case.

  6. AllanG54 says:

    Hallelujah….this was generic about five years ago and then it wasn’t. But it costs me about $220 for 90 pills. Hopefully it’ll now be $37.50 for 90 pills.

  7. longfeltwant says:

    You know, there are other cats who don’t need pills…

  8. wildgift says:

    This is a little OT, but a couple years ago, the FDA took a generic drug, colchicine, and privatized it for a few years so that one company could pay for clinical trials (that’s what they said). The price went from around 40 cents a pill to $4 a pill, a tenfold increase.

    I just got a prescription from my HMO, and they have a stockpile of the old generics. The quantity dropped from 60 pills per refill to 15 pills per refill, a fourfold increase. Still, it’s cheaper than $4 per pill. I guess if I were in their shoes, I’d do the same thing in preparation for buying those expensive pills.

    Thanks for nothing FDA and URL Pharma.

    • holocron says:

      Take a trip to Europe. Go to the Pharmacy. Tell the Pharmacist what you need. Stock up on inexpensive “prescriptions.”

      Case in point: I have a prescription for a medication (which I only need to use occasionally fortunately) that is not on my Insurance plan’s “approved list” and is “name brand.” Costs about $100 (not including cost of actually getting the prescription via a doctor appointment) a refill. I stopped at a pharmacy at a European airport recently and got the same thing for $10 USD. Something is wrong with this country…people’s health should not be a free market enterprise.

    • ash says:

      Pretty much everyone is pissed by the patenting of colchicine–especially the VA hospital systems, which negotiate with drug manufacturers (and vets honestly tend to have a lot of gout in the population)
      fack them. There is a 7 tablet voucher on theri website. But that’ll only get you through one attack.

  9. Press1forDialTone says:

    Whoa everybody!

    Plavix is under investigation by the FDA because is it believed to be linked to a
    significant number of deaths due to strokes (actually many small stokes caused
    by blood leaking out of blood vessels).

    Why they didn’t freeze the generic program I have no idea, but my doctor and
    thousands of others have stopped prescribing it.

    • GirlWithGloves says:

      Makes me wonder if that’s due to too high of a dosage. With warfarin, you get regular pro-time tests to monitor the thinness of your blood. If it’s too thin or too thick (not within range of therapeutic level), your dosage is adjusted. Do they not do this for plavix? If not, that’s a bit concerning.

  10. baristabrawl says:

    First world problems.

    • rdclark says:

      Right. In other parts of the world, people with coronary disease just die.

      I’ll send them money and stay right here, thankyouverymuch.

  11. newmie says:

    In ther original FDA testing, it was shown that Plavix was not one bit better than aspirin. In short, not worth any sort of high price. But, thanks to advertising, here we are paying big bucks for something that is nearly worthless. Kind of sickens me to know this.

  12. capnike says:

    Funny how all the ‘Doctors’ come out of the woodwork when there is a health issue!
    This is a personal Medical decision between physician and patient. If you don’t like your doctor’s judgement, change physicians.
    I have taken Plavix and Asprin since my Mi and stent placement, glad to see this is finally generic.

  13. capnike says:

    Funny how all the ‘Doctors’ come out of the woodwork when there is a health issue!
    This is a personal Medical decision between physician and patient. If you don’t like your doctor’s judgement, change physicians.
    I have taken Plavix and Asprin since my Mi and stent placement, glad to see this is finally generic.

  14. incident_man says:

    Yeah I just love drug patents. A couple years ago, the original maker of QVAR, a corticosteroid inhaler used to treat asthma, reformulated just the propellant from CFC-based to non-CFC. Presto, the generic price disappeared and now it’s at the patented price, for the EXACT SAME active ingredient.

    Screw the American pharma industry; I get my meds from Canada now.