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Beta-Blockers: Summary of Recommendations

Beta-blockers are used by tens of millions of Americans to treat high blood pressure and other heart ailments. They are effective, life-saving medicines with more than 25 years of widespread and generally safe use.

The cost of these drugs varies from less than $10 per month to more than $200, so your choice of medicine could mean a big difference in expense. Our report, which evaluates the effectiveness, safety, and cost of 15 beta-blockers in the treatment of high blood pressure, angina (the chest pain that occurs in people with coronary artery disease), heart attack and heart failure, gives you information that could save you up to $1,000 to $2,000 a year if you take a generic beta-blocker instead of a brand-name one.

  Taking effectiveness, safety and cost into account, we have selected the following beta-blockers, at all appropriate doses, as Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs:
  • As a second drug for high blood pressure— atenolol, metoprolol tartrate, nadolol, and propranolol
  • For angina — atenolol, metoprolol tartrate, nadolol, and propranolol
  • After a heart attack— atenolol, metoprolol tartrate, and propranolol
  • For mild heart failure — bisoprolol, carvedilol, and metoprolol succinate
  • For severe heart failure — carvedilol

All of these medicines are available as low-cost generics. All have been proven to be either as effective or superior to other beta-blockers. Carvedilol has the strongest evidence of increasing survival in people with the most severe forms of heart failure. A new sustained-release, once-daily form of carvedilol called carvedilol phosphate (Coreg CR) is now available. It has the same active ingredient and, taken once a day, is expected to be as effective against severe heart failure as the immediate-release form, when taken twice daily. But Coreg CR is not yet available as a generic and it is substantially more expensive than the original form of carvedilol.

All beta-blockers are effective against high blood pressure. But because people with high blood pressure may respond to the various beta-blockers differently, you may have to try more than one before finding the drug that works best for you. Beta-blockers are considered “second step” treatment after diuretics (widely known as “water pills”) if you only have high blood pressure and no other heart condition. They are best used in combination with other blood pressure medicines in treating high blood pressure.

In contrast, if you have angina, heart failure, or if you have had a heart attack – with or without high blood pressure – our Best Buy beta-blockers may well be a first step treatment for you.


Beta–Blockers: Drug Comparison

Note: If the price box contains a , that indicates the dose of that drug is available for a low monthly cost through programs offered by large chain stores. For example, Kroger, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart offer a month's supply of selected generic drugs for $4 or a three-month supply for $10. Other chain stores, such as Costco, CVS, Kmart, and Walgreens, offer similar programs. Some programs have restrictions or membership fees, so check the details carefully for restrictions and to make sure your drug is covered.

Beta-blocker name and dosage strengthA Brand NameB Daily Dosage FrequencyC Total Daily Dosage Average Monthly CostD Best Buy Indication Compare Prices
  Acebutolol 200 mg Generic One 200 mg $20  
  Acebutolol 200 mg Sectral One 200 mg $102  
  Acebutolol 400 mg Generic One 400 mg $27  
  Acebutolol 400 mg Generic Two 800 mg $54  
  Acebutolol 400 mg Generic Three 1200 mg $81  
Atenolol 25 mg Generic One 25 mg $6 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
  Atenolol 25 mg Tenormin One 25 mg $62  
Atenolol 25 mg Generic Two 50 mg $12 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
  Atenolol 25 mg Tenormin Two 50 mg $124  
Atenolol 50 mg Generic One 50 mg $8 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
  Atenolol 50 mg Tenormin One 50 mg $61  
Atenolol 50 mg Generic Two 100 mg $16 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
  Atenolol 50 mg Tenormin Two 100 mg $122  
Atenolol 100 mg Generic One 100 mg $8 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
  Atenolol 100 mg Tenormin One 100 mg $93  
Atenolol 100 mg Generic Two 200 mg $16 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
  Atenolol 100 mg Tenormin Two 200 mg $186  
  Betaxolol 10 mg Generic One 10 mg $35  
  Betaxolol 20 mg Generic One 20 mg $53  
Bisoprolol 5 mg Generic One 5 mg $36 Mild heart failure
  Bisoprolol 5 mg Zebeta One 5 mg $114  
Bisoprolol 10 mg Generic One 10 mg $36 Mild heart failure
  Bisoprolol 10 mg Zebeta One 10 mg $112  
Bisoprolol 10 mg Generic Two 20 mg $72 Mild heart failure
  Bisoprolol 10 mg Zebeta Two 20 mg $224  
Carvedilol 3.125 mg Generic Two 6.25 mg $45 Mild and severe heart failure
  Carvedilol 3.125 mg Coreg Two 6.25 mg $167  
Carvedilol 6.25 mg Generic Two 12.5 mg $49 Mild and severe heart failure
  Carvedilol 6.25 mg Coreg Two 12.5 mg $161  
Carvedilol 12.5 mg Generic Two 25 mg $47 Mild and severe heart failure
  Carvedilol 12.5 mg Coreg Two 25 mg $169  
Carvedilol 25 mg Generic Two 50 mg $44 Mild and severe heart failure
  Carvedilol 25 mg Coreg Two 50 mg $160  
  Carvedilol 10 mg SRE Coreg CR One 10 mg $156  
  Carvedilol 20 mg SR Coreg CR One 20 mg $155  
  Carvedilol 40 mg SR Coreg CR One 40 mg $155  
  Carvedilol 80 mg SR Coreg CR One 80 mg $155  
  Labetalol 100 mg Generic Two 200 mg $22  
  Labetalol 100 mg Trandate Two 200 mg $48  
  Labetalol 200 mg Generic Two 400 mg $28  
  Labetalol 200 mg Trandate Two 400 mg $78  
  Labetalol 300 mg Generic Two 600 mg $37  
  Labetalol 200 mg Generic Four 800 mg $56  
  Labetalol 200 mg Trandate Four 800 mg $156  
Metoprolol succinate 25 mg SR Generic One 25 mg $31 Mild heart failure
  Metoprolol succinate 25 mg SR Toprol XL One 25 mg $46  
Metoprolol succinate 50 mg SR Generic One 50 mg $32 Mild heart failure
  Metoprolol succinate 50 mg SR Toprol XL One 50 mg $47  
Metoprolol succinate 100 mg SR Generic One 100 mg $46 Mild heart failure
  Metoprolol succinate 100 mg SR Toprol XL One 100 mg $66  
Metoprolol succinate 200 mg SR Generic One 200 mg $69 Mild heart failure
  Metoprolol succinate 200 mg SR Toprol XL One 200 mg $104  
Metoprolol tartrate 25 mg Generic One 25 mg $3 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
Metoprolol tartrate 50 mg Generic One 50 mg $4 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
  Metoprolol tartrate 50 mg Lopressor One 50 mg $62  
Metoprolol tartrate 100 mg Generic One 100 mg $6 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
  Metoprolol tartrate 100 mg Lopressor One 100 mg $92  
Nadolol 20 mg Generic One 20 mg $11 Angina, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
  Nadolol 20 mg Corgard One 20 mg $94  
Nadolol 40 mg Generic One 40 mg $10 Angina, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
  Nadolol 40 mg Corgard One 40 mg $108  
Nadolol 80 mg Generic One 80 mg $22 Angina, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
  Nadolol 80 mg Corgard One 80 mg $139  
  Nebivolol 2.5 mg Bystolic One 2.5 mg $71  
  Nebivolol 5 mg Bystolic One 5 mg $70  
  Nebivolol 10 mg Bystolic One 10 mg $69  
  Nebivolol 10 mg Bystolic Two 20 mg $138  
  Nebivolol 10 mg Bystolic Three 30 mg $207  
  Nebivolol 10 mg Bystolic Four 40 mg $276  
  Pindolol 5 mg Generic Two 10 mg $38  
  Pindolol 10 mg Generic Two 20 mg $48  
  Pindolol 10 mg Generic Three 30 mg $72  
  Pindolol 10 mg Generic Four 40 mg $96  
  Pindolol 10 mg Generic Five 50 mg $120  
  Pindolol 10 mg Generic Six 60 mg $144  
Propranolol 10 mg Generic Two 20 mg $8 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
Propranolol 20 mg Generic Two 40 mg $8 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
Propranolol 40 mg Generic Two 80 mg $17 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
Propranolol 60 mg Generic Two 120 mg $66 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
Propranolol 80 mg Generic Two 160 mg $14 Angina, heart attack, 2nd drug for high blood pressure
  Propranolol 60 mg SR Generic One 60 mg $38  
  Propranolol 60 mg SR Inderal LA One 60 mg $149  
  Propranolol 80 mg SR Generic One 80 mg $44  
  Propranolol 80 mg SR Inderal LA One 80 mg $168  
  Propranolol 120 mg SR Generic One 120 mg $53  
  Propranolol 120 mg SR Inderal LA One 120 mg $209  
  Propranolol 160 mg SR Generic One 160 mg $74  
  Propranolol 160 mg SR Inderal LA One 160 mg $281  
  Propranolol 80 mg CDF InnoPran XL One 80 mg $87  
  Propranolol 120 mg CD InnoPran XL One 120 mg $79  
  Timolol 5 mg Generic Two 10 mg $22  
  Timolol 10 mg Generic Two 20 mg $33  
  Timolol 10 mg Generic Three 30 mg $49  
  Timolol 20 mg Generic Two 40 mg $57  
A. All beta-blockers listed are tablets, except Acebutolol, Carvedilol sustained release and Propranolol sustained release and continuous delivery, which are capsules.

B. "Generic" indicates that this drug is sold by its generic name. For example, in this table, for the first drug listed, acebutolol, is the generic or chemical name and Sectral is the brand name. Both are available and they have the same active ingredient. In column 2, when the word "generic" appears, the price given is for the generic version. Note that the generic will almost always cost much less than the brand-name version.

C. Depending on your health conditions, symptoms and response to the medicine, your doctor may adjust your dose to be either higher or lower than what we've stated in this price chart.

D. Prices reflect nationwide retail average for January 2011, rounded to the nearest dollar. Information derived by Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs from data provided by Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions, which is not involved in our analysis or recommendations.

E. "SR" stands for sustained release.

F. "CD" stands for continuous delivery.