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Modifiable Healthcare Costs

Friday, March 02, 2012


The healthcare industry, not unlike other industries, engages in many clever tactics to sell Americans overpriced, supposedly new, products.

One of the most outrageous tactics is smoke and mirror marketing. Pharmaceutical companies, as an example, too often market a new patent-protected drug that is almost a mirror image of the same drug that has just gone off patent. The new drug, more frequently than not, does not work any better and it is no safer than the generic drug developed to replace the off-patent branded version.

New drugs that are almost the same are frequently prescribed in this country and the industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars marketing them to the medical profession and directly to the public.  

The bottom line: if you are prescribed a new drug to replace a drug that has worked for you successfully, but has gone off patent, ask your doctor to explain the clinical improvements and if he or she can’t, ask them to save you some money and prescribe the generic version instead – if one exists.   

Unfortunately, another drug company practice called Pay-for-Delay too often keeps generic drugs off the market and maintains outrageous brand monopoly profits by paying the generic manufacturers to delay market launch for a few years after the patent has expired.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) projected the 10 year cost to Americans of Pay-for-Delayat $35 billion and they support legislation to stop this practice; however it seems to always stall in Congress.

Imagine that!

You might want to call or write your representatives and ask why they are not passing Senate Bill 27, the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act.  Here is the link to Senate Bill-27 [SB-27]. 

The FDA has also published Facts and Myths about Generic Drugs on their web site.  We strongly recommend that you take the time to view the article. They suggest generics are as effective and as safe as the patented version according to this report. 

Prescription drugs can be brilliant and save lives in many instances. For that reason, we support the industry, but not all of the practices. 

We continue to caution that tens of thousands of people in our country die every year from adverse reactions to FDA approved drugs taken as recommended. We also caution our readers to question the need for drugs prescribed to counter the effects of other drugs - if stopping the original drug is an alternative. 

Mostly, we advocate choosing lifestyles that protect and improve overall health, including strict attention to dietary intake, exercise, adequate rest and family and community participation, which most always lessens the need for a number of expensive and often unnecessary drugs that are breaking our healthcare bank.

Nutrition Industry Smoke & Mirrors:  It happens in the opposite way in our industry, primarily from marketing-only companies who jump into the supplement space with copy-cat products that include less expensive raw ingredients to increase bottom line profits. Decisions like this most always interfere with formulation efficacy.
 
Ellen Troyer, MT MA
Biosyntrx CEO / Chief Research Officer

PEARL

The January 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggests in their CDC Grand Rounds called: Prescription Drug Overdoses – A U.S. Epidemic, that approximately 27,000 unintentional drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in 2007, one death every 19 minutes (one wonders why they don’t have data newer than 2007 since they are calling this an epidemic). 

The 2007 report identified that more overdose deaths involved prescription drug opiod analgesics than heroin and cocaine combined.  They also reported that for every unintentional overdose death related to an opiod analgesic, nine persons were admitted for substance abuse treatment (243,000), 35 visited emergency departments (945,000) and 161 reported drug abuse or dependence (4,347.000), and 461 reported nonmedical use of opiod analgesics (12,447,000). 

It’s obvious that our healthcare system cannot afford this problem. We must improve medical practice prescribing of opiods and other addictive prescription drugs - including antidepressants and sleeping pills since both increase mortality risk and are, in too many cases, an unnecessary burden on our healthcare system.  

Before emailing or calling me to let me know that antidepressants are not addictive, I am aware that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) does not consider antidepressants addictive, but they do recognize the enormous number of people who are antidepressant dependent, which in my mind is similar enough for major concern. 

The CDC looked at data between 2005 and 2008 and reported that eleven percent of Americans over the age of 12 take antidepressants. Charles Raison, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry of the University of Arizona School of Medicine suggested in a CNN interview that among other things, obesity, overly processed food (nutritional deficiency), lack of aerobic exercise and social isolation lead to depression and antidepressant dependency - all modifiable behaviors. 




References

FDA Facts - [Facts and Myths about Generic Drugs]


Pay-for-Delay: How Drug Company Pay-Offs Cost Consumers Billions [FDA.gov article]

Senate Bill-27: the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act.  [SB-27]. 


Antidepressant Use in Persons Aged 12 and Over: United States, 2005-2008 - [CDC report]