Brand versus generic alendronate: Gastrointestinal effects measured by resource utilization

Hillel Halkin*, Marina Dushenat, Barbara Silverman, Varda Shalev, Ronen Loebstein, Yosef Lomnicky, Nurit Friedman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Adverse reactions related to the upper gastrointestinal tract (UGIT) that are associated with generic alendronate formulations may differ from those associated with the brand drug. OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that adverse UGIT effects of alendronate formulations may differ between generic and brand products. METHODS: We conducted a database health resource utilization analysis of UGIT outcomes in patients who started treatment with generic or brand alendronate formulations during 2001-2005. We included 6982 patients who were treated continuously for 3 months with 1 of 4 alendronate formulations; brand 10 mg/day (Merck, Sharpe & Dohme, n = 1418), genetic A 10 mg/day (Teva, Israel, n = 650), generic B 10 mg/day (Unipharm, Israel, n = 628), and brand 70 mg/wk (n = 4266). In these patients, who had neither filled a prescription for alendronate nor had any gastrointestinal problems in the year preceding the study, we compared incidence rates of new use of gastric medications (H2-blockers, proton-pump inhibitors, or antacids), gastroenterology visits, endoscopies, and hospital admissions. RESULTS: Incident rate ratios (IRR) for treatment discontinuation were higher with both daily generic products (IRR 1.3; 95% CI 1.04 to 1.63). Adherence (medication possession ratio [MPR] >80%) was better with brand 10 mg/day (IRR 1.19; 95% CI 1.11 to 1.27). All comparisons were adjusted for use of concurrent corticosteroids, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, and potassium supplements. Hospitalisation rates (2.7-3.2%) were similar in all groups. New use of gastric medications (3.4-4.9%) was lower with brand 10 mg/day (IRR 0.71; 95% CI 0.53 to 0.95). Rates of UGIT endoscopy (n = 49) in patients receiving 10 mg were 0.6% (brand), 1.1% (generic A), and 1.6% (generic B), the generic B higher (IRR 2.88; 95% CI 1.14 to 7.29) in the entire cohort, but not among new users (n = 273) of gastric drugs (IRR 2.46; 95% CI 0.55 to 11.05). Endoscopic findings were normal in 22 patients, hiatal hernia with no mucosal lesion was present in 10 patients, and there was mild-to-moderate esophagitis or gastritis in 17 patients; there were no significant differences among the formulations. CONCLUSIONS: We found insufficient evidence to indicate major differences in UGIT adverse effects related to use of daily generic, as compared with brand, alendronates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-34
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Adverse effects
  • Alendronate
  • Generic


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