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Generic Drugs to Lower Cholesterol

By Howard LeWine, M.D.
Content provided by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School

Question:

physician's photo

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing at Harvard Health Publications. He is recognized as an outstanding clinician and teacher and is a recipient of the Internal Medicine Teacher of the Year award at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine continues to practice Internal Medicine; most recently he became a hospitalist after practicing primary care for over 20 years.

Are there any generic medications available to treat high cholesterol?

Answer:

Yes, several generic drugs can lower cholesterol.

A statin drug is my first choice for most of my patients. The generic statins include:

  • atorvastatin

  • lovastatin

  • pravastatin

  • simvastatin

Of these, atorvastatin and simvastatin are most potent. Also, more research has been done on these two drugs. Multiple studies show that they decrease the risk of heart attack and heart related deaths. The other two generic statins probably do the same. They just don't have as much research behind them.

Simvastatin and lovastatin can interact with many other drugs. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist when starting any new drug.

Other generic drugs that lower cholesterol:

  • fenofibrate

  • gemfibrozil

  • niacin

These three don't lower LDL (bad) cholesterol as much as the statins. But they raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels more than the statins. They also are more effective for people who need drugs to lower their triglycerides.

Copyright: Copyright Harvard Health Publications

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