OTC Niacin Vs. Niaspan
Many people wonder what the difference is between OTC niacin versus Niaspan® (niacin extended-release).
Niacin is a generic version of Niaspan. While the prescription medication is regulated as a drug, the over-the-counter versions of niacin are only regulated as dietary supplements.
Since the manufacturing of non-prescription niacin supplements is not tightly regulated, there may be significant batch-to-batch variations in the products (some might contain much more or much less niacin than labeled).
There appear to be important safety (and probably efficacy) differences between over-the-counter niacin vs. Niaspan. These products should not be considered to be equivalent.
(Click Types of Niacin and Niaspan to learn more about the differences between the generic product and the prescription drug, to learn about safety information for these products, and to find out which niacin products are more effective.)