Lipitor (Atorvastatin) and/or alternatives
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General Information on Lipitor
Lipitor is specifically recommended to reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL or low-density lipoprotein) and triglycerides in the blood. It works by reducing the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver. The drug also works to increase the levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL or high-density lipoprotein). Lipitor belongs to a family of drugs called “statins” or HMG CoA reductase inhibitors. The generic name of the drug is Atorvastatin, and it is useful in the treatment of high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, and heart complications in people with Type 2 diabetes. The drug also lowers the risk of strokes and can be used for the treatment of adults and children above 10 years of age. The drug can help if you want to lower your bad cholesterol but it is important to consult your doctor before you buy Lipitor.
Lipitor Side Effects
Many people who take Lipitor do not complain about side effects, but the possibility of side effects cannot be completely ruled out. Some of the common side effects that you can experience after taking Lipitor are stomach pain, headache, constipation, and weakness. You should immediately inform your doctor if any of the side effects persist for a long time or become bothersome. The drug may also cause allergic reactions that include swelling of the mouth, lips, face or tongue, breathing problem, rash, itching, hives, and tightness in the chest. Some people may also experience muscle pain, persistent sore throat, fever, chills, frequent urination, and yellowing of the skin or eyes. Allergic reactions due to the drug can become severe in the absence of medical attention. Thus, it is necessary that you inform your doctor immediately if you observe or experience any allergic reactions after taking the recommended dosage of Lipitor.
Your doctor should have detailed knowledge about your medical condition before they prescribe Lipitor. You should inform your doctor if you have any allergies, diabetes, thyroid problems, kidney problems, muscle aches, or consume more than 2 glasses of alcohol on a daily basis. You should buy Lipitor only after your doctor prescribes it.
The dosage of Lipitor is generally recommended by a doctor who determines LDL levels in the patient’s blood. Patients with high LDL may require a large dose, such as a dosage of 40mg Lipitor once a day. The dosage range changes from person to person as it depends on individual LDL levels. Your doctor may recommend a dosage in the range of 10 to 80 mg once a day after determining your LDL levels. The dosage of Lipitor is changed as the levels of LDL decrease. The doctor may change your dosage every 2-4 weeks after checking the LDL levels in your blood.
Lipitor may react with other medications and cause severe side effects. As such, it is important that you inform you doctor about the different medications you take, such as prescription medicines, non-prescription medicines (over the counter medicines) and herbal medicines or supplements. You should inform you doctor if you take medicines for birth control, heart failure, cholesterol, infections, immune system, or AIDS. Women should inform their doctor about their pregnancy or if they are breastfeeding before they are asked to take Lipitor.
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What is a "Generic" medication/drug?
Generic drugs are medications that have comparable medicinal ingredients as the original brand name drug, but which are generally cheaper in price. Nearly 1 in 3 drugs dispensed are "generic". They undergo testing to ensure that they are similar to their "brand" counterparts in:
- Active Ingredient (e.g. "Pravastatin" is the active ingredient in brand name Pravachol)
- Dosage (e.g. 10 mg of the active ingredient)
- Safety (e.g. same or similar side effects, drug interactions)
- Performance (e.g. 10 mg of a "generic" can be substituted for 10 mg of the "brand" and have the same therapeutic result)
- Intended use (e.g. both "generic" and "brand" would be prescribed for the same conditions)
What this means is that "generic" medications can be used as a substitute of their brand equivalents with the comparable therapeutic results. There are a few exceptions (examples are outlined at the end of this page) and as always you should consult your physician before switching from a brand name medications to a generic or vice versa.
What differences are there between generic and brand?
While generics and brand equivalent drugs contain the same active ingredients, they may be different in the following ways:
- Appearance (e.g. the scoring or markings)
The color, shape and size of the medication come from the fillers that are added to the active ingredients to make the drug. These fillers that are added to the drug have no medical use and do not to change the effectiveness of the final product. A generic drug must contain comparable active ingredients and must have a comparable strength and dosage as the original brand name equivalent. Generic drugs can be more cost effective than purchasing the brand name.
Why do generics cost less than the brand name equivalents?
When a new drug is "invented", the company that discovered it has a patent on it that gives them the exclusive production rights for this medication. Once the patent expires in a country, other companies can bring the product to market under their own name. This patent prevents other companies from copying the drug during that time so they can earn back their Research and Development costs through being the exclusive supplier of the product. After the patent expires however, other companies can develop a "generic" version of the product. These versions generally are offered at much lower prices because the companies do not have the same development costs as the original company who developed the medication.
The main thing to realize here though is that the two products are therapeutically equivalent. They may look different, and be called something different.
How are Generic drugs tested to ensure quality and efficacy?
Generally speaking, the two most generally accepted methods to prove the safety of a generic version of a drug are to either repeat most of the chemistry, animal and human studies originally done, or to show that the drug performs comparably with the original brand name drug. This second option is called a "comparative bioavailability" study. During this type of study, volunteers are given the original drug, and then separately later the generic drug. The rates at which the drug is delivered to the patient (into their blood stream or otherwise absorbed) are measured to ensure they are the same. Because the same active ingredient is used the major concern is just that it delivers the common chemical(s) at the same rate so that they have the same effect. Please note that the methods that the manufacturers use may vary from country to country.