America’s Pharmaceutical Industry: Not Quite as Hated as Tobacco

People love Google.  Their products are easy and intuitive and make your day easier.  People love Apple.  There was even a bloom of endearment for Bill Gates as he officially stepped down as head of Microsoft last month.

A Harris poll of 20,000 Americans was released last month and showed that as an industry “Technology” was most favorably rated among all participants, and that “Tobacco” was the seen in the most negative way.  Not hard to understand.

Barely above Tobacco, were two other industries that a lot of people have problems with: “Insurance” and “Energy” (what do you think Exxon’s profits will be for this past quarter?).  And wedged right between them?  "Pharmaceuticals".  Wow, and here I thought I was doing something good for people.

I know people are mad a prescription costs and are bombarded by ads and commercials for products.  They’re worried about safety in the wake of the problems with Vioxx and (perhaps) Avandia – both of which have helped vast numbers of people more than they’ve hurt.  Drugs always need to be an informed risk-benefit analysis — patients and physicians need to be able to communicate that.

Add to that, a recommendation from the FDA last week that in the wake of fears about Avandia that all new diabetes medicines be tested for cardiovascular risk – even if there is no scientific basis to be concerned about it.   Good grief.  Remember how I posted about the scientific method?  It seems that no longer applies to drug-research.  You now have the 24-hour news/hype cycle determining the activity of the goverment agency with the duty to protect the nation's food and drug supplies.  God help us.  This ruling will likely delay approval of new medicines by years and increase the total investment required to bring a new drug to market to over a billion dollars (and that’s before anyone pays for one pill)  — and you thought your prescription prices are high now?

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16 thoughts on “America’s Pharmaceutical Industry: Not Quite as Hated as Tobacco

  1. Yep. #'s 8 & 9 are pretty high or (low I guess) on my list, they kinda go hand in hand, don't they? With the best insurance my company offered I still had a $175 co-pay for what is essentially a 1 oz. bottle of liquid vitamin D that my dermatologist tells me "will probably never come out with a generic".Grrrr.

  2. Well, the FDA and logic have never played well together. It's really disgusting, though, that they can be swayed – or feel the need to appease – the media. For some reason people don't realize that increased regulation = increased cost.
    I don't hate the pharmaceutical companies, but I do hate their constant commercials.

  3. Fish — I think that's the thing that I dissociate probably too well is the link between insurance providers and the cost of medical goods (drugs) and services. I can tell you though that the FDA isn't going to do anything to improve those prices.

  4. Believe me, I hate their commercials too!! (I think i got sick when I saw that first "Viva Viagra" commercial…) — the bad part is that companies and I sense the government itself it paralyzed by fear of litigation and so its a giant case of CYA. And it becomes safer to NOT approve things, because then no one can sue you if something goes wrong. How backward is that???

  5. Ouch, below airlines? Except for their total cheesiness, I may be the one person who actually likes pharma commercials. I don't actually enjoy them, but I think advertising them makes people more aware of their options — and more likely to ask their doctors about alternatives. I do laugh like a 12-year-old when they say that side effects include "oily discharge," though. Tee hee.
    Btw, like the new pic!

  6. Hapa — its sort of sad, but drug companies claim that the need to DTC advertising is because PCPs are under-educated with respect to new medicines and too hesitant to re-consider standing sub-optimal treatment algorithms. The claim is that by going right to the patient (who then prompts their doctor…), they are trying to force physician education.

  7. Yep, it seems every year at our GMP training we hear about how the FDA saved millions of American babies by not approving thalidomide. A good call, to be sure, but I'm sure it adds fuel to their fire.
    Think how much more you'd hate "Viva Viagra" if your 8-year-old son sang it…

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