Crestor's coming off patent. Now what?

With Crestor’s patent exclusivity officially expiring on July 8, 2016, we thought we’d dive deep into the difference between brand vs generic drugs and what’s next for the drug that is used to lower cholesterol and triglycerides.

First of all, you’ll begin seeing a Crestor generic alternative available for sale, called Rosuvastatin Calcium, in the near future.

Since pharmaceutical companies often spend billions of dollars discovering and developing new medicines, patents are issued in order to allow the company to market and sell the treatment exclusively. A brand drug’s patent exclusivity may last up to 20 years. During this period, the pharmaceutical company owning the patent has exclusive rights to freely manufacture and market the brand drug they developed.

Crestor’s generic is called Rosuvastatin Calcium

During development, the drug will often be assigned two names. In order to market the drug to a broad audience, the medication is given a brand name, which will stand out in marketing and is often easier to say. It is also assigned a generic name, which is considered the drug’s common scientific name. A good example is the brand drug Lipitor and its generic equivalent Atorvastatin Calcium. Once the brand drug’s patent exclusivity expires, other pharmaceutical companies are given the green light to manufacture and sell the generic version.

Read our blog post on how to find the lowest price on Rosuvastatin Calcium here!

Generic drugs must have the same active ingredients as their brand counterparts, which have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Once patents expire, the same drug company that developed the medication is allowed to produce both generic and brand version simultaneously. This can be a controversial topic, considering the cost differences between generic and brand. Although they have been manufactured by the same company, costs can vary widely.

UPDATE: Some consumers say they have experienced joint pain after switching over to Rosuvastatin Calcium. If you are also experiencing joint pain while on Rosuvastatin Calcium, it would be smart to discuss these side effects with your pharmacist or physician.

The FDA has identified guidelines for how a generic version can be manufactured. 

How are brand and generic drugs similar?

The generic version must contain the same active ingredients as the brand. This means the chemical make-up of each drug must be identical. It also must have the same dosage strength, form and route of administration.

How do brand and generic drugs differ?

A big difference is in the name of the drug. They can also have different sizes, shapes, colors and markings. They will possibly have different inactive ingredients as well. The make-up of drugs requires both active and inactive ingredients. Some individuals may have an allergy to certain inactive ingredients, like dyes used to color the pills. Be sure to consult a physician or pharmacist before taking a generic version of your medication.

A major difference between brand and generics is cost. About 88% of medications prescribed in the U.S. are generics. This is because the cost of generics can be extremely different than their brand counterparts. For example, the popular drug Zocor costs $221.50 on average, for 30 tablets of 20 mg. When searching pharmacy prices with LowestMed’s search tool, Zocor’s generic equivalent, Simvastatin, costs just $6.69 for the exact same dosage, form and quantity.

Since generics can vary by manufacturer, various pharmacies may carry different versions of generic drug. Though active ingredients are the same, the inactive ingredients could vary, which would account for why some versions of the same drug look different than each other. The drug Phentermine is a good example of this.


The use of generic drugs is vital to the affordability of prescription drugs. In fact, in 2014 Americans saved about $254 billion by using generic alternatives instead of brand drugs. Be sure to ask your physician, consult a pharmacist or search for you medication with online search tools in order to identify generic alternatives for your brand drug treatment.

Brand vs Generics Infographic