Namenda® is the most popular drug for mid-stage Alzheimer's. The manufacturer is discontinuing Namenda and replacing it with extended-release Namenda-XR. CBS wants to know, is this switch about health or money?
Namenda® for Alzheimer's is a popular medication that will be going generic in the near future. The new generic formulation, known as Memantine, will offer the same benefits at a much lower cost.
Now, the manufacturer of regular Namenda has announced they will be switching everyone using the medication to the patented, extended release version known as
Namenda-XR®. They plan to do so about six months before generic Memantine hits your pharmacist's shelves.
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On the one hand, the extended release Namenda-XR has advantages over regular Namenda. With regular Namenda, one has to remember to take it twice a day, while Namenda-XR is a once-a-day formulation. Furthermore, the slow, steady supply of medication that comes from extended-release drugs tends to have fewer, milder side effects.
On the other hand, these may be small advantages at a big cost. Namenda-XR will not go generic for years to come. That means the big savings from generic Memantine may elude those forced to switch to full-priced extended-release Namenda-XR.
In other words, you may currently be perfectly happy with regular Namenda. Had this switch not occurred, you may have decided to make the easy switch from regular Namenda to regular Memantine to save money. After all, they are the same thing; Memantine just costs less. But once you are forced to switch to extended-release Namenda-XR, chances are you will think twice before switching to regular Memantine. People are often resistant to switching from a brand-name drug to a generic when it is not exactly the same thing.
So keep your eye out for the upcoming availability of the generic form of Namenda called "Memantine". When it becomes available, talk to your doctor about it. Though switching to the lower-cost generic formulation just got complicated, a small education about what's going on here may be all it takes to save a big bundle.
CBS Evening News
CBS Evening News