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Valsartan Too Expensive? See If You Can Switch to a Cheaper Option

by Dr. Sharon Orrange on November 11, 2014 at 1:13 pm

If you’ve been on Diovan or the generic version valsartan, and are being told by your insurance it will no longer be covered—you need a plan. Can you switch to losartan (Cozaar) or another medication to save money?

Though valsartan is the generic version of Diovan it’s still expensive. Both valsartan and losartan are ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers); out of the ARBs, losartan has been around the longest.

Here are some simple things to know if you’ve been told to switch your ARB to losartan:

  • The benefits of losartan include controlling blood pressure, slowing the progression of diabetic kidney disease (nephropathy), and decreasing stroke risk in patients with left ventricular hypertrophy. This is true for all the ARBs.
  • This is important. Losartan, taken once daily, does not last the full 24 hours at lower doses like 25 or 50 mg. At 100 mg daily losartan does last the full 24 hours.

What about an ACE Inhibitor?

They work, are cheap, and ARBs are basically ACE Inhibitors without the cough side effect. For blood pressure control lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril) is a very good choice and a once daily dose goes the full 24 hours. The maximum dose of lisinopril is 20 mg daily because after that it isn’t much more effective. A dry, tickly cough is the most common adverse effect of ACE inhibitors (this doesn’t happen with the ARBs listed above) that may develop in around 10% of folks. Oh, and lisinopril is cheap. Really cheap.

Dr O.

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