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Dirty Tricks of Pharmaceutical Companies Revealed

As you know, I've been following the various media coverage on Dr. Marcia Angell's newest book, The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It, with great interest and admiration.

The former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine had much to say in a recent interview about why she devoted an entire book to the pharmaceutical industry and the economics behind high drug prices.

Some of the highlights:

  • A group of economists, mainly funded by drug companies, came up with the widely quoted figure ($802 million) to bring a new drug to market, but only from the perspective of creating new chemical compounds developed entirely in house. However, most drugs are "me too" drugs: slight variations of older drugs already being sold.
  • Pharmaceutical companies create "me too" drugs as a way of extending patents on older ones. For example, as the patent on Nexium was going to expire, AstraZeneca replaced it with the virtually identical Prilosec.
  • Most drug trials were conducted at academic medical centers two decades ago. Back then, drug companies tended to stand back during the testing period. However, drug companies have succeeded in attaching strings to research contracts more recently, often designing the studies themselves, keeping the data in-house and deciding whether or not to publish the results. They also began to contract with private research companies for testing.

Wilmington Star-News September 14, 2004

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