No More Financial Assistance for Plavix from Bristol-Myers But Are Generics Really the Same?

plavix_and_stentBristol-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.”

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7 Comments

Filed under Antiplatelet Medications, Drug-Eluting Stents, FDA, Patient Alert, Patients

7 Responses to No More Financial Assistance for Plavix from Bristol-Myers But Are Generics Really the Same?

  1. Generic medications are the same as their brand name counterparts. They have the same active ingredients, efficacy and side effects. The only reason why they’re cheaper is because the patent expires on the brand name. However, if you happen to experience a side effect that isn’t listed in the drug’s warning label, then you can only sue the manufacturer if you are taking the brand name version. This is because generic drug makers are required to carry the exact same safety info as the brand name, meaning they have no control over the warning of side effects. For instance, if you experience a gastrointestinal hemorrhaging while taking clopidogrel, you can only sue if you took brand name Plavix.

  2. Betty Ricketts

    Dr wants me to take brand name plavix I need a plavix choice card or mail order for brand name

    • Betty — Unfortunately, as the spokesperson from Bristol-Myers Squibb says in the update, the company no longer offers the Plavix Choice Card.

  3. becky denham

    My husband had stent 2007…on Plavix….6/12 put on generic Clopidogrel by drug store. is it the same?….is long term use problem?….not any side affects except for tired…

  4. Julius Romano

    In going from Plavix to its generic form, I am concerened about the lower and upper limits of the generic version. That is, is the generic version upper and lower effetive range match those of the formulary version? If it does not, then there could be serious problems from the generic version.

  5. James Joslin

    Since June 2004, I have been taking Plavix, 75mg, once a day. In 2013, I was switched to the generic version because of insurance. Immediately I started having problems with the generic version. I had chest pain and left arm pain. My cardiologist told me to try taking one 75mg generic version pill twice day, once in the morning and once in the evening. It resolved my problem. I have not had any more chest pain or left arm pain. Note: I have CAD and 8 stents. Also, I had bypass surgery with 2 bypass grafts covering the LAD. At this time I have bad valve in my heart, but not bad enough now to anything about it according to my cardiologist. I am seeking a 2nd opinion on that.

  6. PAMELA PARKER

    I WAS SWITCHED TO THE GENERIC FOR PLAVIX AND AFTER 3 MONTHS WAS BACK ON PLAVIX AS I HAD EXCESSIVE BLEEDING AND MY CARDIOLOGIST FELT IT WAS UNSAFE FOR ME TO TAKE THE GENERIC.

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