Drug Marketing Mania

Check out the NYT today for a report on the marketing plan for “Lexapro” – a fancy antidepressant drug that costs far more than older generics, has no clinical evidence that it works any better, and has benefited from tens of millions of dollars put into doctors’ pockets to encourage its use – especially among kids:

In February, federal prosecutors in Boston announced a civil lawsuit against Forest claiming that the company illegally marketed both Lexapro and a closely related antidepressant, Celexa, for use in children and paid kickbacks to doctors to induce them to prescribe the medicines to children.

This is yet another reason we need better control (like a preferred drug list) over the drugs used in our NC Medicaid and State Health Plan – not only to control costs, but to make sure that safe, effective and appropriate drugs are being used in programs funded with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

6 Comments

  1. Kimberly

    September 1, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I think that drugs advertised on TV, especially drugs like Viagra, should not be allowed to be advertised where any child can see it since the content of that advertisement is entirely inappropriate especially for children. Drug companies paying doctors and hospitals to prescribe their drugs or recommend certain drugs is a direct conflict of interest and should never be permitted. Drugs should only be prescribed based on their effectiveness for a specific patient. It’s no wonder insurance companies and so many drug companies are against health care reform, they are afraid of regulation that will actually empower the patient instead of padding their bank account.

  2. Martha Brock

    September 1, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    I could not disagree more. I agree that TV advertising directed at consumers is a waste of money, but I do not agree with your often repeated call for a drug formulary for Medicaid and the State Health Plan.

    Having experienced a severe reaction after switching (on my doctor’s recommendation) to a generic form from a Brand name medication, I know first hand that all generics do not work for all those who use meds. I know some folks who use them regularly with no problem, and others who cannot switch to a generic. We need some middle ground here that does not require everyone to use a generic nor everyone to have access to Brand Name drugs.

    Why not just a tiered system like BC/BS with a cost incentive to use generics without requiring doctors to use them first regardlesss of the patient’s history?

  3. Alex

    September 4, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I am on many drugs there are no generics for, One the copay is $100 a month. The drug itself is $2,400 a month. There is no other drug like it in the world for my condition. The drug company that makes it brags to its stockholders about how no other drug for MS has ever made so much in profits. Ironically this company makes most of the generics in the country as well. My Doctor saves me $200 a month on samples for other drugs I need for asthma and another chronic illness. I like the sales representatives for these samples. I am on a dozen different medications. The drugs are expensive but not using them would be way more expensive to me, my insurer, and to society. With them I avoid emergency room visits, hospital stays, and full time nursing care.

    When money gets tight I have not taken medications and with bad results. Still now I do take half dosages on some.

    BCBSNC saves money when people are on maintenance medications. That is part of the reason they have health coaches.
    Tiered is a nice idea if there are generics. What if you are many drugs that have no generic equivalent it adds up.

  4. Martha Brock

    September 4, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    I can understand the plight of Alex and many others. I do suggest going to the online sites that provide free drugs for those in real need who need maintenance drugs, not just one shot Rx.

    I myelf get them from four different companies. The process for applying and getting approving is laborious and requires doctor”s assistance, but when expensive drugs are involved, it is worth it in the long run.

    Each company has its own application and its own restrictions. So be prepared to spend several hours doing the applications.

  5. keith

    September 25, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    I can see the one thing behind the drugs advertised on tv is GREED and GREED and no concern for the side effects they cause many people to suffer needlessly.

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