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"Newer" and "Better" Drugs: Overprescribing Vioxx and Celebrex

It's not at all surprising to read that a new study found doctors were overprescribing Vioxx and Celebrex by the MILLIONS, even to patients who probably never needed to switch to them. What's interesting is how it happened.

Low-risk patients accounted for TWO-THIRDS of the growth of Vioxx and Celebrex from 1999-2002. Researchers blame much of the growth of these "Twin Towers" of the COX-2 product line to human nature. Simply put, patients AND doctors tended to believe "newer" drugs were "better" than older, more proven NSAIDs. According to the lead researcher, however, both drugs have been proven only to be better than a placebo.

Where did patients and doctors get that notion that "newer" was better? A torrent of marketing dollars -- to the tune of $161 million -- Merck spent on direct-to-consumer ads for Vioxx in 2000 ALONE, more than any other pharmaceutical company spent on ANY other drug that year. But that's a drop in the bucket considering the many billions these toxic drugs have generated in earnings for Merck and Pfizer.

You probably also recall I posted warnings about Vioxx, even before it was launched. At the time, I knew this drug was a prescription for disaster and specifically recall conversations with Merck drug reps who laughed at me about my concerns. I doubt they are doing that today.

Of course, there are far healthier and safer ways to treat your pain:

USA Today January 24, 2005

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