Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Do name brand heart medications work better than generics?"

ZocdocAnswersDo name brand heart medications work better than generics?


I was having problems with my heart racing, and it would start up with no warning, reaching 170 beats per minute for no reason. After many tests, and wearing a Holter monitor for a week, I was diagnosed with SVTs, or supraventricular tachycardia. I was prescribed name brand Tenormin (atenolol). Tenormin worked great for many years. When I changed insurance companies, they would only pay for the generic, atenolol. My heart problems started up again. The effectiveness of atenolol lasted about two hours at the most. When I asked the doctor to prescribe the name brand Tenormin, he did, and the problems ceased again. My pharmacist told me that generic atenolol and name brand Tenormin have a different ""delivery systems."" Do name brand heart medications work better than generics as a rule, or is this unique to my medical situation?


In general, the generic medications work the same as the name brand. They are by definition exactly the same molecular structure. However, they do sometimes have slightly different "fillers" that might result in different levels of absorption. It is possible that this represents the difference between atenolol and Tenormin. In have never had (in my experience) any problems with the generic versions of atenolol. I would say that this situation is probably unique to your situation and I recommend that you discuss this with your cardiologist. If you don't want to pay for the name brand, then you might consider switching to a different beta blocker. Other beta blockers that act similarly to atenolol but might work for you in their generic form. One example is the commonly used metoprolol. This is the medication that I reach for first in some types of SVT. I suggest that if you are still having issues with your SVT and you cannot get the Tenormin through your current insurance company, then you should schedule an appointment with your cardiologist to discuss this further. Your cardiologist might be able to write your insurance company a letter for a "prior authorization" that might allow it to be covered. If not, then you can come up with an alternative medication that might work just as well.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.