Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) is no longer offering its $37-a-month Plavix® Co-Pay Discount Card. And some patients are not happy about this. Additionally, according to the company’s web site for “Patient Assistance Programs,” the company is no longer making this life-saving drug available to patients who cannot afford it. This, of course, has something to do with the fact that brand-name Plavix has gone off patent and generic versions have been available since May 2012. (See our Patient Alert: How to Get the Best Price on New Generic Plavix.) But are the generic versions of clopidogrel really the same?
Plavix (clopidogrel) is a critical component of all drug-eluting stent implantations. One year of Dual AntiPlatelet Therapy or DAPT (aspirin plus clopidogrel or prasugrel or ticagrelor or even the older ticlopidine) is a package deal with drug-eluting stents: you can’t have one without the other. That’s why “Financial Assistance for Plavix” has been one of the most popular topics in Angioplasty.Org’s Patient Forum (which gets over 35,000 page views a month).
But in our Forum, curious reports have surfaced in a few posts about patients suddenly experiencing side effects when they switched from brand name Plavix to a generic version. Several relatively small studies have shown no difference in efficacy between Plavix and its generic counterpart and, of course, the FDA has approved the manufacturing of generic versions. But side effects may be a different issue. So we’ve been wondering if any physicians or patients can add to this. You can comment to this blog, or add your post to the 357 others on our Forum Topic “Financial Assistance for Plavix.”
Late Update on February 22, 2013: I contacted Bristol-Myers Squibb last week before posting this article. I received the following comment in an email earlier today from the Public Affairs Dept:
“Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi made the Plavix Choice program available to allow patients who, together with their physicians, made the choice to continue branded Plavix at the time that lower-priced generic versions of clopidogrel became available in the U.S. The companies previously communicated that this program would close at the end of 2012. At the end of 2012, the companies experienced low demand for this program, and the Plavix Choice program was ended at that time.”