Research vs Marketing for Prescriptions
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Marc-Andre Gagnon and Joel Lexchin of York University in Toronto have published their study entitled "The Cost of Pushing Pills: A New Estimate of Pharmaceutical Promotion Expenditures in the United States" in the journal "Public Library of Science Medicine". The analysis found that U.S. drug companies spent $57.5 billion on promotional activities in 2004 alone. Compared that with the $31.5 billion on pharmaceutical research.
According to Lexchin "In the United States, there is one sales rep for every five doctors. That is a lot of money,".
From personal experience, this does not come as much of a shock. A seemingly increasing number of doctors offices I have visited are plastered with posters, models, diagrams and so on. All with the name of particular medication and the company stamped on it. I'll bet more than one patient has asked what the medication on the poster does or how it works. These offices are the ones I am wary of. 9 times out of 10 something will be repeatedly 'suggested' or wants prescribed something 'new'. Ex. antibiotics for colds. That sort of thing.
Kent Holtorf, MD at ImmuneSupport.com wrote an article in the Spring of 2007 entitled "Why Doesn't My Doctor Know This?" that explores partly, that very idea.
Here is a snippet:
"There is clear evidence and concern that published research is clearly tainted by whomever is the financial sponsor of the study.
- A study published in the Journal of Psychiatry (and later discussed in the May 2006 edition of Forbes magazine) states that the most important determinant of the outcome of the study is who paid for it.
- An analysis in the Archives of Internal Medicine reviewed 56 studies of painkillers - and not once was the sponsor’s drug deemed inferior. In addition to reading the conclusion of the study, a physician must read the entire study and review the data with a critical eye, which is rarely done."
Doctors more and more are being treated like drug dealers. A number of offices have a policy of not prescribing certain medications, for obvious reasons, like opiates, tranquilizers, sleeping aids and so on. With individuals taking advantage of a doctors caring nature by using them as dealers. Doctors are caught in the middle. Damned if the do and damned if they don't.
This makes it almost impossible for patients who genuinely have legitimate ailments. We are constantly bombarded with ads on the television, radio and internet saying I should "talk to my doctor", as one ad puts it, about one drug or another for any type of discomfort.
With all the billions being spent on treating symptoms, maybe one day cures will be found. The majority of the medicines we take for symptomatic relief. Off the top of my head, I believe the number is some where between 65-75%. But I have a feeling it is higher still.
So called "Promotional Activities" have a place in the medical system, to a degree. Sometimes doctors will hand out samples when a medication's cost in beyond what the patient can afford or to see if it helps.
It is all well and good to blame the drug companies for what ails a health care system but don't forget, the patient still has a choice as to whether prescription or over-the-counter medication is the course of treatment they wish to pursue.
One worry I have is that if doctors, are being bombarded or persuaded half as much as the patients that the information being rendered to them about 'drug X' performing better than drug 'Y' is from the manufacturer of 'drug X' how can we trust the information is impartial.
***Always discuss all your options with your health care practitioner, doctor, pharmacist and so forth. If you are not happy with them or feel they are being influenced in so way, it does not hurt to get a second or third opinion. Most importantly, do as much research as possible.***
The doctor has been taught to be interested not in health but in disease. What the public is taught is that health is the cure for disease.
Cluster headaches are poorly understood by many - I'm glad to see a blog about it. I remember my older brother suffering from them. As a migraine sufferer myself, I understand from people who have both clusters and migraines, that clusters are worse.
I can't even imagine that.
I am truly sorry to hear that your brother is/was afflicted with cluster headaches. Did his stop eventually? It sounds like he has your for understanding and support. That is something a price cannot be put on.
*Please do not use this information for self diagnoses. Writing about my experiences with chronic cluster headaches & epilepsy is a good outlet for me. Consult your Dr. with any kind of headache or chronic pain you may have. The 3rd party links on my site I have found to be a good resource to me over the past few years & dearly hope they will benefit you as well.*