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Norvasc vs Benicar

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Norvasc Information

Benicar Information

Comparative Analysis

Norvasc Prescription Information

Benicar Prescription Information

Norvasc Side Effects

Benicar Side Effects

Safety Information

Cost Information

Market Information



For patients diagnosed with hypertension or high blood pressure, certain medications that alter the function of cardiovascular compounds can assist in managing symptoms and potentially reducing complication risks. Norvasc (generic name: amlodipine) and Benicar (generic name: olmesartan) are two such drugs typically prescribed for these conditions. Both affect different pathways within the cardiovascular system but have similar effects in controlling high blood pressure.

Norvasc is classified as a calcium channel blocker, primarily affecting arterial smooth muscles' contractility by inhibiting calcium ions' influx. This results in muscle relaxation and vasodilation, thus lowering blood pressure.

On the other hand, Benicar belongs to a group of drugs called angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). It works by blocking the action of a natural substance known as angiotensin II that narrows blood vessels and releases hormones increasing sodium and water retention — all contributing to elevated blood pressure levels.

Norvasc vs Benicar Side By Side

Brand NameNorvascBenicar
ContraindicationsNot recommended during pregnancy or with aliskiren-containing products if you have diabetes or kidney problems.Not recommended during pregnancy or with aliskiren-containing products if you have diabetes or kidney problems.
CostFor the brand name, around $100 for 30 tablets (5 mg). Generic amlodipine costs between $0.07 to $0.60 per day.For the brand name, about $210 for 30 tablets (20 mg). Generic olmesartan costs between $0.80 to around $2 per day.
Generic NameAmlodipineOlmesartan
Most Serious Side EffectSymptoms resembling an allergic reaction, rapid heart rate and chest palpitations, swelling in hands and feet, lightheadedness leading to fainting, pounding heartbeats.Signs of an allergic reaction, change in urination patterns, feeling like you might pass out, high potassium levels, severe ongoing diarrhea with weight loss, unusual changes in mood or behavior.
Severe Drug InteractionsAliskiren-containing products, especially in patients with diabetes or kidney problems.Aliskiren-containing products, especially in patients with diabetes or kidney problems.
Typical Dose2.5–10 mg/day, with 5 mg/day being typically effective for most adults.20 mg/day initially, can be increased to 40 mg/day if needed.

What is Norvasc?

Amlodipine (the generic name for Norvasc) is a calcium channel blocker first approved by the FDA in 1987. It's used primarily to treat high blood pressure and angina, which is chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. Amlodipine works by relaxing blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily, hence reducing the workload of the heart. On the other hand, Olmesartan (the generic name for Benicar), is an angiotensin II receptor antagonist that was introduced later than Amlodipine. Approved by FDA in 2002, it also treats hypertension but operates differently - it prevents narrowing of blood vessels for smoother circulation of blood. Both medications are effective at managing hypertension; however, their side effect profiles differ due to their distinct mechanisms of action.

What conditions is Norvasc approved to treat?

Norvasc is approved for managing different cardiovascular conditions:

  • Hypertension, or high blood pressure
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD), specifically for patients with stable angina and vasospastic angina
  • Symptomatic heart failure

How does Norvasc help with these illnesses?

Norvasc helps to manage high blood pressure by inhibiting the influx of calcium ions into vascular smooth muscle and cardiac muscle. This action relaxes and widens blood vessels, which in turn reduces the resistance that the heart must overcome to pump blood around the body, thus lowering overall blood pressure. Calcium is a mineral that's crucial for the contraction of muscles, including those in our arteries' walls. When there's too much calcium within these arterial wall cells, it causes them to contract more strongly hence narrowing down our arteries and increasing blood pressure. Therefore, by limiting calcium entry into these cells, Norvasc can reduce hypertension effects and help patients manage their condition and stabilize their circulatory system.

On another hand, Benicar works differently as an angiotensin II receptor antagonist; this means it blocks angiotensin II from binding with receptors on smooth muscle cells surrounding blood vessels. By doing this it also leads to relaxation of your artery walls but through a different mechanism: here preventing constriction rather than promoting dilation as with Norvasc.

What is Benicar?

Benicar is a brand name for olmesartan, an angiotensin II receptor antagonist that acts to dilate blood vessels and reduce the volume of retained fluid. It was first approved by the FDA in 2002. Olmesartan works by blocking the action of chemicals that tighten the body's blood vessels, effectively lowering blood pressure. As it does not inhibit calcium channels or beta receptors, its side-effect profile is different compared to other antihypertensive drugs, such as Norvasc (a calcium channel blocker). In particular, Benicar is less likely to cause peripheral edema (swelling caused by fluid buildup), which can be a common side effect with drugs like Norvasac. The effects on angiotensin II receptors make Benicar beneficial for treating hypertension and may be preferred in patients who have experienced certain adverse effects from “typical” antihypertensive medications such as Norvasc.

What conditions is Benicar approved to treat?

Benicar is an FDA-approved medication for the treatment of:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Lowering the risk of stroke in patients with heart disease It's also been shown to potentially help prevent kidney problems in patients with type 2 diabetes.

How does Benicar help with these illnesses?

Angiotensin II is a hormone that plays a significant role in the body's regulation of blood pressure and fluid balance. It can constrict blood vessels, leading to increased blood pressure. Benicar works by blocking the action of angiotensin II, thereby relaxing and dilating the blood vessels which allows for easier blood flow and reduces high blood pressure. Its impact on kidney function may also play roles in its effectiveness as an antihypertensive medication. Since it doesn't significantly affect calcium channels like Norvasc does, it is sometimes prescribed when a patient does not respond well to calcium channel blockers or may be combined with them for enhanced efficacy.

How effective are both Norvasc and Benicar?

Both amlodipine (Norvasc) and olmesartan (Benicar) have well-established histories of successfully treating patients with hypertension, and they were initially approved by the FDA only three years apart. Since they act on different systems - Norvasc is a calcium channel blocker while Benicar is an angiotensin II receptor antagonist – they may be prescribed under different circumstances or even together for synergistic effect. The effectiveness of amlodipine and olmesartan in controlling blood pressure was directly compared in several studies; both drugs demonstrated similar efficacy in managing hypertension as well as similar safety profiles.

A 2005 meta-analysis report on amlodipine demonstrated that it is effective at reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressures from the first week of treatment, its side effect profile is favorable over many other antihypertensive medications, especially regarding metabolic effects, and it is well-tolerated even in elderly populations. Amlodipine has become one of the most widely prescribed antihypertensive drugs globally due to its proven efficacy.

A 2011 review indicated that olmesartan seems to be more effective than placebo in lowering blood pressure, demonstrating potency comparable to other common angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). Olmesartan might typically be considered as a first-line treatment option along with other ARBs or calcium channel blockers like Norvasc. Research involving olmesartan often includes co-prescription alongside another class of drug such as a diuretic or calcium channel blocker so data confirming its stand-alone efficiency are robust. Nonetheless, due to its unique pharmacology working on renin-angiotensin system blockade rather than inhibiting calcium channels like Norvasc does, Benicar could offer an optimal choice for patients who did not respond well to calcium channel blockers or need to avoid certain side effects related with this group such as peripheral edema.

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At what dose is Norvasc typically prescribed?

Oral doses of Norvasc range from 2.5–10 mg/day, with studies suggesting that a dose of 5 mg/day is typically effective for the treatment of hypertension in most adults. Children and adolescents may start at a lower dosage of 2.5 mg/day based on their body weight and response to therapy. In either population, the dosage can be adjusted after several weeks if blood pressure goals are not met. The maximum recommended daily dose should not exceed 10 mg.

At what dose is Benicar typically prescribed?

Benicar treatment for high blood pressure is typically initiated at a dosage of 20 mg/day. If the desired blood pressure isn't achieved with this, the dose can be increased to 40 mg/day after two weeks. The medication should ideally be taken at the same time each day to maintain a consistent level in your body. Remember that it's important not to stop taking Benicar without consulting your doctor, as abrupt cessation could lead to a significant increase in blood pressure or other heart-related effects. As always, follow your healthcare provider’s instructions carefully and report any side effects immediately.

What are the most common side effects for Norvasc?

Notable side effects of Norvasc (Amlodipine) can include:

  • Swelling in your ankles or feet (edema)
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Flushing (a warm feeling and redness in the face or neck area)
  • Stomach pain, nausea
  • Abnormal heartbeat rhythms

On the other hand, Benicar (Olmesartan) may cause:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness as your body adjusts to the medication
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in urination patterns such as increased frequency
  • Unexplained weight changes

Remember that these are potential side effects and not everyone will experience them. Always consult with a healthcare professional for any concerns related to medications.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Norvasc?

With Norvasc, or amlodipine, there are potential side effects one should be aware of:

  • Symptoms resembling an allergic reaction like hives; difficulty breathing; swelling in your face, lips, tongue or throat
  • A rapid heart rate and chest palpitations
  • Swelling in your hands and feet due to fluid build-up
  • Lightheadedness leading to fainting spells
  • Pounding heartbeats causing discomfort

In comparison with Benicar (olmesartan), you might experience some different symptoms including:

  • Dizziness upon standing up due to a sudden drop in blood pressure.
  • Kidney problems indicated by changes in urine output - increased frequency or decreased volume.
  • Severe digestive issues like chronic diarrhea with substantial weight loss.

If these symptoms present themselves during the course of treatment with either drug, it is crucial that medical assistance be sought immediately.

What are the most common side effects for Benicar?

Benicar, also known as olmesartan, can have several side effects including:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness due to a decrease in blood pressure
  • Stomach pain and nausea
  • Diarrhea, particularly in the first few weeks of treatment
  • Itching or skin rash
  • Weakness and increased sweating
  • Changes in urination such as an increase in frequency or amount
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Muscle pain that comes on quickly.

It's important to note that while some patients may experience these symptoms, not everyone does. If you notice any unusual changes after starting Benicar, it's recommended to consult with your healthcare provider promptly.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Benicar?

While Benicar is generally considered safe, it can cause some serious side effects in rare cases. If you notice any of the following symptoms after taking this medication, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat
  • A change in urination patterns - either more or less than usual
  • Feeling like you might pass out (fainting)
  • High potassium levels may occur which can lead to heart palpitations, shortness of breath and chest pain
  • Severe ongoing diarrhea with weight loss
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior such as feeling anxious or depressed.

Always remember that all medications have potential side effects and those listed above do not necessarily mean they will occur. It's important to monitor your condition closely while on treatment and report anything unusual to your healthcare provider promptly.

Contraindications for Norvasc and Benicar?

Norvasc and Benicar, like other antihypertensive medications, may sometimes exacerbate symptoms of heart disease in certain individuals. If you notice a worsening of your hypertension or an increase in related symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Norvasc nor Benicar should be taken if you are using aliskiren-containing products (such as Tekturna), particularly if you have diabetes or kidney problems. Always inform your healthcare provider about all the medications that you're currently on; aliskiren needs approximately 2 days to clear from the system to prevent hazardous interactions with Norvasc and Benicar. Furthermore, both these drugs are not recommended during pregnancy due to potential harm to the fetus.

How much do Norvasc and Benicar cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 30 tablets of Norvasc (5 mg) averages around $100, which works out to approximately $3.33/day.
  • The price for 30 tablets of Benicar (20 mg) is about $210, working out to roughly $7/day.

Thus, if you are prescribed the typical daily dose for each medication, then brand-name Norvasc is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis than brand-name Benicar. However, cost should not be the primary consideration in determining which drug is right for you; effectiveness and side effects need also be taken into account.

The costs are significantly lower when considering generic alternatives:

  • Amlodipine besylate (generic form of Norvasc), available in packs starting from 30 tablets and above with dosages ranging from 2.5mg -10mg daily can cost between $0.07 to $0.60 per day depending on your dosage.
  • Olmesartan medoxomil (generic form of Benicar), also available in similar pack sizes but with higher dosages ranging between 10mg -40mg daily can cost an estimated range from about $0.80 up to around $2 per day dependent on individual dose requirements.

Always remember that prices may vary based upon where you purchase your medication and whether or not you have insurance coverage.

Popularity of Norvasc and Benicar

Amlodipine, marketed under the brand name Norvasc among others, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 75 million people in the US in 2020. Amlodipine accounted for more than 35% of calcium channel blocker prescriptions in the US and is a first-line treatment for hypertension and angina. Its use has been generally increasing since it was introduced into clinical practice.

Olmesartan, including brand versions such as Benicar, was prescribed to around 8 million people in the USA during the same period. In the US, olmesartan accounts for just over 10% of angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) prescriptions which are primarily used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. The prevalence of olmesartan has also increased but not at as high a rate as amlodipine over recent years due to its introduction being much later.


Both Norvasc (amlodipine) and Benicar (olmesartan) are commonly prescribed medications for the treatment of high blood pressure. They have been shown in numerous clinical studies to effectively reduce blood pressure and help prevent heart attacks, strokes, and kidney problems. While both can be used simultaneously for controlling hypertension, they influence different aspects of the cardiovascular system - Norvasc is a calcium channel blocker that dilates blood vessels, while Benicar is an angiotensin receptor blocker that relaxes blood vessels by blocking a hormone which constricts them.

Norvasc is often considered a first-line treatment option due to its safety profile and once-daily dosing regimen. Conversely, Benicar might usually be added on to therapy with Norvasc or other antihypertensive drugs if initial treatments do not adequately control the patient's hypertension.

Both drugs come in generic forms, offering significant cost savings especially for patients who must pay out of pocket. It may take several weeks before you get the full benefit of these drugs.

The side effect profiles are somewhat similar between these two medications - common side effects include dizziness or lightheadedness as your body adjusts to the medication. However, edema or fluid retention can occur more frequently with Norvasc than with Benicar. Patients should closely monitor their symptoms when starting either drug and seek medical attention immediately if they experience severe allergic reactions or signs of worsening heart failure.