The New York Times editorializes
today that pharmaceutical manufacturers should not be allowed to bring a new drug to market unless it can show that the drug is superior to those already on the market. Without comparative data, "patients and doctors . . . rely mostly on intuition, trial and error, or the salesmanship of the drug makers." Medical superiority is often not the point of a new drug, the editorial continues. "In many cases, a manufacturer introduces a new patented product that is little different from an existing drug that is losing patent protection and whose price will thus be plummeting. The manufacturer typically implies that the new drug is better, a tactic that causes many doctors to prescribe it. . . . Congress is making moves toward reform with legislation that would provide modest sums for federal health agencies to sponsor research on the comparative effectiveness of top-selling prescription drugs. The drug industry opposes the bills. But at a time when prescription drug costs are escalating and consumers are deluged with commercials touting one drug or another, it is vital to provide objective, reliable information on what works best." PhRMA's site is down this morning, but I'll be back with their comment on the pending legislation later.