The Vitamin Kid

Avoiding bad medicine and finding non-toxic treatments that actually work

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Location: Ankeny, Iowa, United States

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Rising Drug Costs: The Nexium Rip-Off Part II

Last week I told the story of Nexium, the redundant but very expensive replacement for Prilosec. There isn't a lot more to tell about that drug, except that it encapsulates (a little pharmaceutical humor there) everything that's wrong with drug development and marketing in the United States health care system.

Any need for Nexium could be filled by the out-of-patent and much cheaper Prilosec. There are other drugs for acid reflux like H2 blockers, which are also inexpensive, out-of-patent, and effective. There is no excuse for doctors writing prescriptions for Nexium in large numbers. Nor should consumers take this kind of hit in the wallet for a new drug which is not really new and does not offer substantially better performance.

Why are we spending so much more on expensive drugs that aren't usually more effective for people than much cheaper generics? Because doctors prescribe them, and the insurance companies, government assistance programs, and individual patients who pay the bills don't protest often enough. It is hard to blame drug companies for trying to maximize their profits by selling the same thing at a higher price, if their customers are dumb enough to pay for it.

In a November 14 New York Times article, Eduardo Porter writes, "The Food and Drug Administration has classified only about 20 percent of the drugs developed over the last 10 years as qualitative breakthroughs. Even though they spend more on research, pharmaceutical companies are finding fewer new drugs. In a report this year, the F.D.A. said that the way drugs are developed 'is becoming increasingly challenging, inefficient and costly.'"

Translated, that means 80 percent of the new drugs coming on the market are not breakthroughs. They are marginally better, if at all. Some are probably a step backward, as the Vioxx fiasco illustrates.

What is the solution to excessive drug cost? Mainly, the government, insurance companies, and individual patients have to get very hard-nosed about what is being prescribed. When a patient has a condition that can be treated with drugs, generally the generics should be tried first, gradually working up to the more expensive patented medicines if necessary.

Of course, it wouldn't hurt if people focused more on disease prevention so they wouldn't need so many drugs. That is the other part of the crisis in drug costs. More people are taking more drugs than ever before. Even without inflation in drug prices, our costs would be rising simply due to increased use.

With the aging of the population, drug use will be on the rise. Guaranteed. And costs will continue to go up until society sensibly starts putting its collective foot down, throwing their pills out the window, and screaming, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take these blanking pills any more."

1 Comments:

Blogger dark_one said...

My name is John Diamond and i would like to show you my personal experience with Nexium.

I am 58 years old. I have bee taking Nexium on and off for 2 years. For the last 3 months I have been taking 1-40mg daily. I have been cycling for 10 years riding avg. of 150 miles a week. I noticed this year I had no energy. Was riding 4 to 5 times a week and could hardly go. A fellow rider told me last week about the vitimin B absorbtion problem and other side effects he had from Nexium. I quit the Nexium last week and I could really tell the differance in my energy level. I was riding regularly and watching what I ate but could not see a weight loss. Now I see that others are having the same problems. I had never had the itchy rectum problem in my life untill a couple of months ago, when I started back on the Nexium on a regular basis.

I have experienced some of these side effects-
Fatigue, weight gain, itchy rectum

I hope this information will be useful to others,
John Diamond

Nexium Side Effects

11:09 PM  

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