The Medication Maze

Tired of paying upward of $100 or more a month for your statin drugs? Go generic.

The first generic statin, lovastatin, was approved in 2001. You can get 100 pills for about $94 at Walgreens, compared to the $220 for the same supply of the name brand, Mevacor. Other statins will be going off patent in the next few years, increasing competition in the area, and there’s talk that statins may one day be available over the counter without a prescription.

But statins are no longer the only game in town. In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Vytorin, which packs two cholesterol fighters into one pill. It combines Zetia, a cholesterol-blocker, with Zocor, the second-most-prescribed statin.

Speaking of combined drugs, if you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol – a common combination – you can now treat both with one pill: Pfizer’s Caduet, a combination of blood pressure medication Norvasc (amlodipine besylate) and Lipitor, approved in January 2004.

- Debra Gordon