Are you tired of flipping through magazines and seeing three-page ads for prescription drugs? Or listening to a commercial that fast talks through a seemingly endless list of side effects and dangers?
Well, if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its way, you will see a change in how pharmaceutical companies are allowed to advertise their products.
Marketing drugs is a big business. In 2013, BigPharma’s Top 10 companies spent $98.3 billion promoting their drugs. Advertising that is targeted specifically at the patient is called direct-to-consumer marketing, or DTC.
Last year, Pfizer alone spent $1.4 billion on DTC … Continue reading
A report published last week detailed how much Medicare spends on prescription medications.
In 2013, Medicare spent $103 billion on drugs. (I’m guessing the total will be more in 2014 and 2015, when they get around to publishing that data.)
Federal officials said they hoped that disseminating the data would lead to new revelations about the prescribing patterns of doctors and for particular drugs.
Dan Mendelson, the CEO of Avalere, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm, said the data could provide patients with new questions about their prescription history when they visit their physician. “It’s really important to stimulate conversations
… Continue reading
Recently, a group of physicians wrote a letter to Columbia University asking that its celebrity doctor, Mehmet Oz, be removed from the faculty. The doctors cited Dr. Oz’s “egregious lack of integrity” and marketing of “quack treatments.”
I’ve written several posts blasting Dr. Oz and his slick promotion of “miracles”—most often pricey dietary supplements, for which there is little or no evidence that they work.
My favorite YouTube satire doc, ZDoggMD, put together this brilliant piece based on the TV show House of Cards. It’s called Dr. House of Cards and uses footage from the … Continue reading
I love John Abramson’s work. He’s a physician and kind of the original whistle-blower on Big Pharma. He wrote a brilliant book, Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, in which he outlined how the aggressive marketing techniques and biased medical research of the giant pharmaceutical companies have led to the overuse of many prescription drugs.
The pervasive use of statins is one of his (and my) pet peeves.
And recently the American Heart Association (AHA) came out with cholesterol guidelines that will lead to a huge increase in prescribing statins to people with a low risk of … Continue reading
I didn’t know this, but apparently in 2008 South Los Angeles enacted an ordinance to regulate or limit fast food sales. It was an attempt to lower obesity rates in some of the poorest and unhealthiest neighborhoods.
Now, seven years later, a study has been published that says the intervention didn’t work. It not only didn’t work, but the obesity rates were higher.
As for the health of the residents, according to the survey, obesity and being overweight increased in all areas from 2007 to 2012, and the increase was significantly greater in the regulated area. Consumption of
… Continue reading
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the disturbing statistic that Abilify—an antipsychotic drug—is the best-selling prescription medication in the US.
I recently read another blog and a psychiatrist agrees with me: What does it mean to live in the age of Abilify?
Antipsychotics are powerful drugs with considerable risks and side-effects. But psychosis and mania are powerful too….If Abilify keeps psychosis at bay and prevents hospitalization, the risks are worth it. The cost is worth it too — if a less expensive generic atypical won’t do.
As I wrote in 2009, the manufacturer
… Continue reading
There is nothing the major pharmaceutical companies fear more than their best-selling drugs going off patent.
That’s when generic versions of popular (and pricey) drugs become available and the drug companies have to kiss their billions of dollars in sales goodbye.
So it’s no wonder that over the years they have figured out more ways to either extend their patents by tweaking a drug (New and Improved!!) or by stalling the release of a competing generic (companies can get 30-month delays if they show the generic drug might infringe on a later patent).
Patients who take the Alzheimer’s … Continue reading
I’ve always been skeptical of the over-hyped claims of alternative medicine, including homeopathy.
(Heck, if you’d read my blog for long you know I’m skeptical of a lot of mainstream medicine, as well!)
So I read with much amusement an article on The Daily Beast: Sorry, Hippies, Homeopathy is Totally Useless
Homeopathy is a worthless means of sustaining your health. In terms of preventing or treating disease, it’s up there with bloodletting or erecting a shrine to Asclepius in your pantry. It is literally good for nothing from a medical perspective.
The author, a physician, wrote in response to… Continue reading
Is anyone else tired of those “Low-T” commercials?
Low-T is the catchy nickname marketers have given to low testosterone levels in men. The ads urge men who are feeling tired or who have a low sex drive to ask their doctors about a testosterone supplement.
Injections, gels or nasal sprays—there’s something for everyone! And they’re buying. Over a billion and a half dollars is spent every year on testosterone supplements.
Well, last week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning against the over prescribing of these products to men. Testosterone supplements have only been approved by the FDA … Continue reading
All around the country, and certainly in my own city (Seattle), hospital construction has been booming over the last ten years.
Billions of dollars are being spent, and not just for necessary upgrades. Hospitals are going for a more upscale look in the hopes that they can attract better paying patients (those with the best insurance coverage) and get better patient satisfaction scores.
And patient satisfaction scores are important because Medicare is basing some reimbursements on those scores—if the patient isn’t happy, Medicare won’t pay.
But a couple of recent studies have shown that patients don’t give hospitals better ratings … Continue reading