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Calcium Channel Blockers: Summary of Recommendations

Calcium Channel Blockers (CCBs) are used by millions of Americans to treat high blood pressure, angina, and certain heart rhythm abnormalities. The monthly cost for these drugs varies from less than $20 to more than $200. This report gives you information that will help you: (a) determine when you might need a CCB; (b) choose the right CCB and dosage; and (c) save $1,000 to $1,700 a year if you are currently taking or have been prescribed an expensive brand-name CCB.

CCBs are effective medicines that have been shown to lower blood pressure and help prevent and treat the symptoms of angina (chest pain). In addition, two CCBs are effective in controlling certain heart rhythm problems.

CCBs are typically not prescribed as initial or first-line treatment in people with high blood pressure who have no other form of heart disease. Instead, CCBs are often used as a second or third drug to help lower blood pressure when other drugs have failed to bring levels down enough.

CCBs should be considered as initial treatment (usually in combination with other drugs) for people who have high blood pressure plus angina and/or a high risk of stroke. CCBs should not be taken by people with heart failure (often called congestive heart failure).

  This report compares the effectiveness, safety, and cost of eight CCBs. We have chosen the following four as Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs based on the weight of the scientific evidence for their effectiveness, as well as dosing convenience and their cost in treating the following conditions:
  • As a second drug for high blood pressureamlodipine
  • For angina amlodipine
  • For heart rhythm abnormalitiesdiltiazem CD, diltiazem SR, and verapamil SR

All these medicines are available as low-cost or moderately priced generic drugs. All are as effective as other CCBs.

Calcium Channel 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.

Generic name, dosage strength, and form Brand NameA Frequency per dayB Average Monthly CostC Best Buy Indication Compare Prices
Amlodipine 2.5 mg tablet Generic One $27 Angina and high blood pressure
  Amlodipine 2.5 mg tablet Norvasc One $80  
Amlodipine 5 mg tablet Generic One $22 Angina and high blood pressure
  Amlodipine 5 mg tablet Norvasc One $78  
Amlodipine 10 mg tablet Generic One $30 Angina and high blood pressure
  Amlodipine 10 mg tablet Norvasc One $103  
  Diltiazem 30 mg tablet Generic Three $16  
  Diltiazem 60 mg tablet Generic Three $31  
  Diltiazem 90 mg tablet Generic Three $36  
  Diltiazem 120 mg tablet Generic Three $52  
Diltiazem CD 120 mg capsuleD Generic One $28 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Diltiazem CD 120 mg capsule Cartia XT One $32  
  Diltiazem CD 120 mg capsule Cardizem CD One $119  
Diltiazem CD 180 mg capsule Generic One $33 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Diltiazem CD 180 mg capsule Dilt-CD One $43  
  Diltiazem CD 180 mg capsule Cartia XT One $40  
  Diltiazem CD 180 mg capsule Cardizem CD One $143  
Diltiazem CD 240 mg capsule Generic One $44 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Diltiazem CD 240 mg capsule Cartia XT One $54  
  Diltiazem CD 240 mg capsule Cardizem CD One $189  
Diltiazem CD 300 mg capsule Generic One $65 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Diltiazem CD 300 mg capsule Cartia XT One $94  
  Diltiazem CD 300 mg capsule Cardizem CD One $239  
  Diltiazem CD 360 mg capsule Cardizem CD One $317  
  Diltiazem SR 120 mg tabletD Cardizem LA One $112  
  Diltiazem SR 180 mg tablet Generic One $87  
  Diltiazem SR 180 mg tablet Cardizem LA One $120  
  Diltiazem SR 240 mg tablet Generic One $97  
  Diltiazem SR 240 mg tablet Cardizem LA One $135  
  Diltiazem SR 300 mg tablet Generic One $128  
  Diltiazem SR 300 mg tablet Cardizem LA One $170  
  Diltiazem SR 360 mg tablet Generic One $136  
  Diltiazem SR 360 mg tablet Cardizem LA One $195  
  Diltiazem SR 420 mg tablet Generic One $154  
  Diltiazem SR 420 mg tablet Cardizem LA One $202  
Diltiazem SR 60 mg capsule Generic One $23 Heart rhythm abnormalities
Diltiazem SR 90 mg capsule Generic One $28 Heart rhythm abnormalities
Diltiazem SR 120 mg capsule Generic One $30 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Diltiazem SR 120 mg capsule Dilt-XR One $25  
  Diltiazem SR 120 mg capsule Taztia XT One $33  
  Diltiazem SR 120 mg capsule Tiazac One $50  
Diltiazem SR 180 mg capsule Generic One $32 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Diltiazem SR 180 mg capsule Dilt-XR One $26  
  Diltiazem SR 180 mg capsule Taztia XT One $34  
  Diltiazem SR 180 mg capsule Tiazac One $59  
Diltiazem SR 240 mg capsule Generic One $36 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Diltiazem SR 240 mg capsule Dilt-XR One $31  
  Diltiazem SR 240 mg capsule Taztia XT One $48  
  Diltiazem SR 240 mg capsule Tiazac One $84  
  Diltiazem SR 240 mg capsule Dilacor XR One $100  
Diltiazem SR 300 mg capsule Generic One $63 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Diltiazem SR 300 mg capsule Taztia XT One $67  
  Diltiazem SR 300 mg capsule Tiazac One $109  
Diltiazem SR 360 mg capsule Generic One $63 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Diltiazem SR 360 mg capsule Diltzac One $60  
  Diltiazem SR 360 mg capsule Taztia XT One $64  
  Diltiazem SR 360 mg capsule Tiazac One $117  
Diltiazem SR 420 mg capsule Generic One $78 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Diltiazem SR 420 mg capsule Tiazac One $120  
  Felodipine SR 2.5 mg tablet Generic One $35  
  Felodipine SR 5 mg tablet Generic One $37  
  Felodipine SR 10 mg tablet Generic One $69  
  Isradipine 2.5 mg capsule Generic Two $81  
  Isradipine 5 mg capsule Generic Two $116  
  Isradipine SR 5 mg tablet DynaCirc CR One $105  
  Isradipine SR 10 mg tablet DynaCirc CR One $146  
  Nicardipine 20 mg capsule Generic Three $37  
  Nicardipine 30 mg capsule Generic Three $60  
  Nicardipine SR 30 mg capsule Cardene SR Two $102  
  Nicardipine SR 45 mg tablet Generic Two $251  
  Nicardipine SR 60 mg capsule Cardene SR Two $219  
  Nifedipine 10 mg capsule Generic Three $84  
  Nifedipine 20 mg capsule Generic Three $153  
  Nifedipine SR 30 mg tablet Adalat CC One $57  
  Nifedipine SR 30 mg tablet Afeditab CR One $34  
  Nifedipine SR 30 mg tablet Generic One $34  
  Nifedipine SR 30 mg tablet Nifediac CC One $35  
  Nifedipine SR 30 mg tablet Nifedical XL One $39  
  Nifedipine SR 30 mg tablet Procardia XL One $82  
  Nifedipine SR 60 mg tablet Adalat CC One $97  
  Nifedipine SR 60 mg tablet Generic One $51  
  Nifedipine SR 60 mg tablet Afeditab CR One $54  
  Nifedipine SR 60 mg tablet Nifediac CC One $60  
  Nifedipine SR 60 mg tablet Nifedical XL One $67  
  Nifedipine SR 60 mg tablet Procardia XL One $138  
  Nifedipine SR 90 mg tablet Adalat CC One $124  
  Nifedipine SR 90 mg tablet Generic One $71  
  Nifedipine SR 90 mg tablet Nifediac CC One $84  
  Nifedipine SR 90 mg tablet Procardia XL One $150  
  Nisoldipine SR 8.5 mg tablet Sular One $227  
  Nisoldipine SR 8.5 mg tablet Generic One $140  
  Nisoldipine SR 17 mg tablet Sular One $291  
  Nisoldipine SR 17 mg tablet Generic One $176  
  Nisoldipine SR 20 mg tablet Generic One $91  
  Nisoldipine SR 25.5 mg tablet Generic One $200  
  Nisoldipine SR 25.5 mg tablet Sular One $352  
  Nisoldipine SR 30 mg tablet Generic One $107  
  Nisoldipine SR 34 mg tablet Generic One $197  
  Nisoldipine SR 34 mg tablet Sular One $311  
  Nisoldipine SR 40 mg tablet Generic One $96  
  Verapamil 40 mg tablet Generic Three $28  
  Verapamil 80 mg tablet Generic Three $13  
  Verapamil 120 mg tablet Generic Three $12  
Verapamil SR 120 mg tablet Generic One $24 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Verapamil SR 120 mg tablet Calan SR One $80  
Verapamil SR 180 mg tablet Generic One $31 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Verapamil SR 180 mg tablet Covera-HS One $79  
  Verapamil SR 180 mg tablet Calan SR One $100  
Verapamil SR 240 mg tablet Generic One $19 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Verapamil SR 240 mg tablet Covera-HS One $110  
  Verapamil SR 240 mg tablet Calan SR One $107  
  Verapamil SR 100 mg capsule Generic (PM)E One $60  
  Verapamil SR 100 mg capsule Verelan PME One $126  
Verapamil SR 120 mg capsule Generic One $31 Heart rhythm abnormalities
Verapamil SR 180 mg capsule Generic One $31 Heart rhythm abnormalities
Verapamil SR 200 mg capsule Generic One $77 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Verapamil SR 200 mg capsule Verelan PME One $151  
Verapamil SR 240 mg capsule Generic One $36 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Verapamil SR 240 mg capsule Verelan One $180  
Verapamil SR 300 mg capsule Generic One $112 Heart rhythm abnormalities
  Verapamil SR 300 mg capsule Verelan PME One $213  
Verapamil SR 360 mg capsule Generic One $60 Heart rhythm abnormalities
A. "Generic" indicates that this drug is sold as a generic under the generic or chemical name.

B. Frequency per day reflects usual frequency; some medicines may be used more or less frequently.

C. Prices reflect national average retail cash prices 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.

D. "SR" stands for sustained release, "CD" stands for continuous delivery.

E. PM is a type of extended-release formulation that is usually taken at night in order to reduce high blood pressure in the morning hours.