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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 6903

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Dunea G.
Fancy drugs for worried folks.
BMJ 1999 Aug 21; 319:(7208):525A


Mrs Boronowski, 67, went to Dr Jingle for nervous indigestion and multiple allergies, and left with a bunch of prescriptions: omeprazole ($4 (£2.50) a tablet); buspirone ($1.30 a tablet) for her nerves; loratidine ($2.20 a tablet) for her allergies; the newest hypnotic, zolpidem ($1.70 a tablet). She also takes atorvostatin ($3.60 a tablet), multivitamin B, yeast, ascorbic acid, vitamin E, and, for hypertension, losartan ($1.30 a tablet). Mrs Boronowski sent her pharmacist’s bill to her insurance company and immediately felt better. In future, if President Clinton has his way she will send her bill to Medicare. At present one third of Medicare recipients reportedly have no drug coverage. Clinton would like to provide full coverage for everybody. The pharmacy industry fears price controls will follow and argues that they will kill the golden research goose that has revolutionised modern therapeutics. Mrs Boronowski’s bill may drop by 20%, but Dr Jingle will continue to prescribe the newest and dearest drugs. Meanwhile Mr Suggs, who pumps gas for small wages, has a painful duodenal ulcer relieved only by omeprazole, which he has to buy himself because he has no insurance. His neighbour has had a kidney transplant and cannot afford antirejection drugs. But another neighbour has a “nervous condition” and a limp, takes cocaine, gets a bagful of free medicine from Medicaid (public aid) each month. If there ever was an ancient goddess of reason, she assuredly remains perched high on Mount Olympus and has not yet descended among the mortals.

*analysis/United States/Medicare drug coverage/Medicaid/price controls/parody/INFLUENCE OF PROMOTION: PRESCRIBING, DRUG USE


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