Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, July 18, 2005

More on DTC advertising

Direct to consumer advertising of drugs such as Vioxx and Prempro (see below) that turned out to be positively dangerous has certainly attracted plenty of attention. But the intention of DTC drug advertising is not to sell us poisons -- that was accidental.* The intention is merely to rip us off.

No doubt you've heard as much about the Purple Pill as you have about Wendy's Bacon Double Cheeseburger and the latest method of making your bathroom bowl sparkle. A month's supply of Nexium costs $171. A month's supply of Prilosec, an older medication which can be purchased over-the-counter, costs $24. According to clinical trials, of people who take Nexium, 60-70% achieve complete relief of their symptoms, whereas, of people who take Prilosec, 60-70% achieve complete relief of their symptoms.

The difference? Nexium is still under patent. Prilosec (omeprazole) is a generic drug with multiple manufacturers.

If you want to learn about the drugs available for various conditions, with clear comparisons of price and effectiveness, from people who aren't out to rob you, try Consumer Reports, which has set up a web site for you. Great idea, huh?

Consumer Reports best buy drugs

*On second thought, that applies to HRT only. In the case of Vioxx, a case can be made that they did have a pretty fair idea of what they were doing.

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