In order to bring you the best possible user experience, this site uses Javascript. If you are seeing this message, it is likely that the Javascript option in your browser is disabled. For optimal viewing of this site, please ensure that Javascript is enabled for your browser.
Did you know that your browser is out of date? To get the best experience using our website we recommend that you upgrade to a newer version. Learn more.

Netherlands study shows need for dose management care when switching to generic statins

Embargoed for release: Friday 20 august 2010 at 1800hrs

Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy

Stockholm, Sweden, 30 August:  Research conducted in the Netherlands has highlighted the need for care when switching patients under treatment for high cholesterol from branded to generic drug families.  The study shows that much of the switching can result in patients inadvertently receiving non-equivalent doses, potentially leading to an increased risk of downstream heart disease and stroke.

Guidelines have been issued by many national healthcare providers to switch patients away from more expensive branded versions of drugs.  There should be little risk in such a move, but in a study conducted by Professor Danny Liew of the University of Melbourne that focused on cholesterol-reducing statins, it is clear that prescribed doses are not being sustained.  The study was undertaken to determine dose-specific patterns associated with switching patients in the Netherlands from the Lipitor-branded atorvastatin to generic simvastatin.  Modelling was then used to predict the increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

The study took a representative sample of pharmacist dispensing data from across the Netherlands, and combined this information with published data on the dose-specific effects of each drug.  “Our research demonstrated that many patients were, in fact, receiving a non-equivalent dose after switching to the generic drug,” said Professor Liew.  The study found that in the first three months of 2009, over one third of patients who had initially been prescribed Lipitor had been switched to a less potent dose of simvastatin.  “The predicted net effect of this would be at least a 5 to 6 percent increase in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), which translates to a 3 percent average increase in the risk of heart disease and stroke”, concludes Professor Liew.



This press release accompanies both a presentation and an ESC press conference given at the ESC Congress 2010. The press release has been written and/or edited by the ESC from information provided by the investigator and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Society of Cardiology. The content of the press release has been approved by the investigator.

Notes to editor

About the European Society of Cardiology
The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) represents more than 62,000 cardiology professionals across Europe and the Mediterranean. Its mission is to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in Europe.

About ESC Congress 2010
ESC Congress 2010 will take place from 28 August to 1 September at the Stockholmsmässan, Stockholm. Information on the scientific programme is available at More information on ESC Congress 2010 is available from the ESC's press office at