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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 9988

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

Mintzes B, Lexchin J.
Do higher drug costs lead to better health?
Can J Clin Pharmacol 2005 Win; 12:(1):e22-7


Prescription drugs are the fastest growing healthcare cost in Canada. Increased spending is mainly due to use of newer, more expensive medicines and a higher overall volume of prescription drug use. In the large majority of cases, empirical studies fail to support claims of a net benefit to health. Newer high-priced drugs are neither consistently safer nor more effective than older alternatives. Over 2000 new drugs and indications introduced in France from 1981-2000 were compared to existing treatments: 81% offered little to no added value and 3% were less safe or effective. In Canada, only 5% of drugs introduced from 1996-2000 offered substantial improvement to therapy. Claims linking use of newer drugs to reduced hospitalization and mortality fail to distinguish between underlying differences in disease severity and treatment outcomes. For “newer” to truly mean “better”, fundamental changes are needed to the regulations governing market approval and post-approval surveillance. Such changes are possible, but would require strong political will.

Publication Types: Comment Editorial MeSH Terms: Canada Drug Approval/legislation & jurisprudence Drug Costs/trends* Drug Utilization/economics Health Expenditures/trends* Humans Prescriptions, Drug/economics Product Surveillance, Postmarketing Quality of Health Care/trends*


Comment on:
Can J Clin Pharmacol. 2005 Winter;12(1):e10-21.


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As an advertising man, I can assure you that advertising which does not work does not continue to run. If experience did not show beyond doubt that the great majority of doctors are splendidly responsive to current [prescription drug] advertising, new techniques would be devised in short order. And if, indeed, candor, accuracy, scientific completeness, and a permanent ban on cartoons came to be essential for the successful promotion of [prescription] drugs, advertising would have no choice but to comply.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963