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.
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