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Lexapro vs. escitalopram price

Consumer Reports News: March 14, 2012 10:53 PM

The FDA approved today the first generic version of the antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro). But don't expect its price to nosedive just yet, say our experts at Best Buy Drugs. Since just two generic manufacturers are currently allowed to make the drug until mid-September, prices are likely to stay put at $137 or so for a month's supply.

Although it may seem strange, the situation isn't specific to escitalopram, a member of a class of antidepressants that also includes fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and citalopram (Celexa), along with their generic equivalents. It actually stems from a complexity in the laws that govern pharmaceutical patents. These laws allow generic manufacturers to vie for an exclusivity period that grants them the right to be the sole marketer, or co-marketer, of a drug's generic version once the patent on the original, brand-name drug expires.

It's not until six months later, when the exclusivity period runs out and other generic makers can come into the market, that competition truly begins--and prices truly drop. The exact same situation is happening now with atorvastatin (Lipitor), which became available generically in November 2011 but isn't expected to start dropping in price until May.

While escitalopram's move to generic is a good thing in the grand scheme of things, our Best Buy Drug recommendations for the best initial options to consider for treating the symptoms of depression (based on efficacy, safety, and price) remain the same:

• Generic bupropion
• Generic citalopram
• Generic fluoxetine
• Generic paroxetine
• Generic sertraline

And for those already taking escitalopram, talk with your doctor about prescribing the generic version going forward, since it will ultimately save money for you, your health plan, or both.

Read the free, full report on antidepressants from our Best Buy Drugs project.

FDA approves first generic Lexapro to treat depression and anxiety disorder

[FDA Release]

Jamie Hirsh

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