A review of the gastrointestinal therapeutic system (GITS) formulation and its effectiveness in the delivery of antihypertensive drug treatment (focus on nifedipine GITS)
Peter A Meredith,1 Henry L Elliott2
1Medicine and Therapeutics, University of Glasgow, The Western Infirmary, Glasgow, United Kingdom; 2Institute of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Abstract: Hypertension treatment guidelines do not discriminate within drug classes and, furthermore, do not consider whether or not all of the formulations of any given drug licensed for once-daily administration can be considered to be therapeutically interchangeable. This article focuses on this issue with respect to nifedipine and the development of the gastrointestinal therapeutic system (GITS) formulation. Nifedipine GITS is regarded as the gold standard once-daily formulation of nifedipine and, as such, it is anticipated that alternative formulations will be therapeutically equivalent to nifedipine GITS. In general, this depends on demonstrating pharmacokinetic bioequivalence. This article is intended to focus attention on generic substitution and, in particular, on aspects of the scientific basis for the substitution of generic products in place of branded products. Such substitution is required for cost-saving or cost-containment reasons and is justified on the basis that the generic (substitute) drug is "therapeutically" equivalent to the branded drug. Unfortunately, there are serious shortcomings in the current methods of assessment insofar as they are typically based on statistical comparisons of average pharmacokinetic parameter values, using arbitrary comparative criteria. This article illustrates the shortcomings of the current approaches to generic substitution and concludes that, in regulatory terms, either more rigorous pharmacokinetic criteria are required or pharmacodynamic indices should be added to reinforce the regulatory criteria. Generic substitution is a balancing act but, at the moment, the cost issue is dominant. To restore the balance, equivalent efficacy must be confirmed. At present, therefore, in the absence of such regulatory rigor, the obvious course is to prefer the branded product, the therapeutic efficacy of which (including outcome benefits) has been established.
Keywords: nifedipine GITS, generic, generic substitution, bioequivalence, cardiovascular outcome, safety
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