These days, there is a drug for everything. You can’t even turn on your TV without seeing a commercial for a new drug. That is because the pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars in direct-to-consumer advertising to get your attention and sell you on everything from antidepressants to diabetes drugs. Drug manufacturers claim that the purpose of this advertising is to educate the public and help people make smarter choices about their medical care. However, there is a lot of information that drug manufacturers routinely leave out – because at the end of the say, drug companies don’t really want to educate. They want to sell products.
For example, antipsychotic medication Latuda works essentially the same way as older and cheaper treatments that are just as effective. Where a generic prescription for Prozac would cost a patient around $22.00 per month, Latuda costs a staggering $922.00 a month. Not only that, but information on clinical trials is not readily available, making it nearly impossible for the average consumer to know how one drug stacks up against another. Consumers should be able to easily access information on how many total clinical trials were conducted on a drug, including how many were positive and how many were negative. Even the savviest consumers cannot easily access this information because of something called the “file drawer effect.” Because positive trial results are more likely to be published than negative ones, finding balanced information on a drug can be an undertaking.
According to Richard A. Friedman, author of What Drug Ads Don’t Say (New York Times), the solution could be for the FDA to require universal scorecards for all new drugs, which would include information on how their effectiveness and costs compare to similar drugs. This scorecard could then be prominently displayed in print and TV ads. If drug companies really cared about educating the public, they should support this plan.
As of now, there isn’t a real incentive for drug companies to compare new drugs to older drugs. The reason for this is because “new” drugs really aren’t very new at all – they are slightly modified versions of older drugs that are unlikely to substantially outperform their predecessors.
Drug companies are only telling us one side of the story. In order for consumers to truly make informed decisions about their health, they should be able to see both the positive and the negative results associated with a drug. Until then, Americans will continue to be at the mercy of drug manufacturers.
Have you been injured by a dangerous drug? You may be eligible for compensation. The Miami personal injury attorneys at Freidin Brown, P.A. are now accepting pharmaceutical negligence cases. We encourage you to schedule a complimentary consultation with a member of our team when you call (888) 650-0918.