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.”


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

15 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.



  7. kelly

    I’ve been on Plavix since 2002 as I have poor circulation in my legs sadly its inherited. When generic came out my insurance put me on that I start having a metallic taste in my mouth and it just continued as I was taking it, it got to a point I couldn’t eat or drink anything cuz it tasted as tho i was sucking on metal. Dr put me back on Plavix problem stopped. I take generic meds when I have to but this is one that I cant I cant take.

  8. pat viscioni

    I am very unhappy about no discounts, I recently have new health insurance and it doesn’t pay much toward brand. The problem is I have problems with a lot of generic drugs.
    I cannot take generic Lipitor it causes my joints to become extremely weak.
    I am not sure what I will do about the cost of name brand Plavix it is over 200.00 per

  9. Jeffrey Johnston

    I’ve been taking Plavix for 15 years now and whenever I’ve tried to switch to the generics which causes my blood to thicken and making it impossible for my CRT-D to pump (as Doctor ordered Name Brand only)!!!!!! The genrics have caused hospitalization more the once until the name brand leveled my blood out. About a week and at times requireing blood transfusions! It seems to run in my family as my Aunt died while under going the blood transfusions!!!!!!! The generic form of a lot of medicines don’t even come close to the Brand Name!!!!! The FDA has failed us by taking money from lobbyist to allow this which is down right disgusting if not criminal!!!!!!! Greed and corruption have taken away our rights to afford medications that work for cheap generics that don’t even come close to the Brand Names!!!!! The Drug Companies should be fighting the FDA to force them to provide a safe and proven medication as we all know how corrupt the FDA a has become. These Bums leave the FDA a and then go to work for the drug companies as lobbyist (which are beloved Insurance Companies couldn’t be happier)!! This is an out right criminal act by the FDA against the American People who pay their salaries!!!!!!! Come on Bristal Myers and help out the very same people that you’ve made so much money over the past off of us and help us out!!!!!

  10. CA CA D.

    My 86 year old Mom has had 2 strokes.
    2 almost fatal internal bleeding on Coumadin.
    Was switched over to the Brand name Plavix. because of this.
    Never took a sick day while she worked cleaning bathrooms for a living.
    Qualified for the Bristol Myers Assistance Program for Plavix Brand……of course.
    Was soon to be told via letter that the Assistance Program is ending because of new generic.
    Will never be able to come off of Plavix Brand because of her health history as per her Cardiologist and Neurologist.
    So now has to charge her $200 per month Plavix Brand pill because it’s keeping her alive.
    And that is ONE of many other medications she is on.

    Shame on you Bristol Myers and FDA for playing God and pulling the plug on the elderly.
    I only hope that some day ‘a family member of yours” doesn’t need to be on the $200 pill Plavix Brand.

    Oh………never mind……….they’ll be o.k. ……’ll just supply them with your “Employee Discount Program”

    • Dear CA CA D – Plavix went generic four years ago. Generic clopidogrel is available, although the prices vary considerably. We posted a price comparison back in 2013 and found Costco Pharmacy had a radically lower price than any other supplier. You might want to check some pharmacies for current prices; you might find that paying cash is cheaper in some cases than your co-pay.

  11. Robin

    I have been on generic plavix since 2007, R/T multiple bypass surgery, from AAA, numerous fem pop bypass do to all the artificial through out my body, & now to put the icing on the cake, I’ve been battling a massive brain aneurysm following the placement of a pipeline in my brain… testing was done only to learn the generic plavix destroyed my platelet reactivity… so my Dr changed to name brand plavix to see if This would reverse this dangerous issue… now being on disability I can’t afford the medication I need. So how does one get help now ? Just because there patent has expired. They can’t help their patients I’m 57 years old I would like to live a little longer and I’m told without the Plavix the pipeline will block and I will die please if anybody has any advice to understand her help me how to figure out to get this Plavix name brand at a discounted rate out appreciate it!

  12. Adele krause

    My husband takes generic Plavix, we cannot afford brand names. How can u not put the same ingredients in the generic as the brand names. We are told they are no different but reading these comments from these people sound a lot like some of the effects my husband has had not knowing they are not the same. Are they the same ingredients or not. People have the right to know. My husband gets nose bleeds and has to not take it for a day.

  13. Benita

    I also take generic Plavix for 3 stents. I have had dizziness, heart palpitations and shortness of breath from this drug. I recently discovered there are different manufacturers of clopidogrel:Dr. Reddy, Teva ,Apotex , Acme Labs, Aurobindo Pharmaceutical, Amneal Pharma. I have tried Dr. Reddy and Teva with good results. APOTEX the side effects were so severe I called a cab to take me to the nearest urgent care. I was soooo dizzy I was not able to drive even walking was difficult., plus heart palpitations were severe in addition to shortness of breath. The EKG only revealed frequent PVC’s and after 4 hours I was feeling better and went home. That’s when I realized it was the CLOPIDOGREL not a heart attack!!

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