Monday, December 11, 2017

Science or Marketing?

The Disease Management Care Blog's colleague, Otto Wolke, R.Ph., a former Vice President of a managed care pharmacy plan and industry leader, submitted the following post. 
He speaks truth to power.
With sixty plus years of observing the pharmaceutical industry, I have an urgent need to provide a perspective that I hope pharmacists, physicians, insurance benefit managers and the Federal Government will heed. As we enter a new world of personalized medicine, new FDA decisions on priority reviews and the push for faster drug review process, the line that separates science and marketing has never been more important.
While the pharmaceutical industry has produced some amazing drugs and there are many thousands of dedicated scientists, there is an unconscionable waste of healthcare dollars, not only in the US, but around the world. Only two countries allow advertising of prescription medicines: the United States and New Zealand.
That translates to $6 billion dollars that provides much more marketing than science. Those billions could be six new breakthrough drugs, or perhaps research that could discover why prescription medications are not only are a major reason for hospitalizations, but also deaths.
You can add the billions paid in drug liability settlements, and more billions paid in fines to the FDA for non-compliance because of faulty and/or misleading information as well as the marketing off label use.
Imagine even a portion of these additional dollars being invested in real science to produce the medicines of the future.
The recent disclosures about unethical pricing and possible collusion in the generic industry just scratches the surface of the consequence of allowing marketing instead of science to direct the industry.
This not only applies to pharma, but to the medical device industry as well.
I could write a book, but several have already been done, perhaps one of the best written by Peter C. Gotzche, co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration. His book is entitled Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime and is aptly subtitled How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare.

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