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Creating New Demand For Worthless Heartburn Drugs

Last week, I posted a blog about the FDA loophole that allows AstraZeneca and Procter & Gamble to control the market on Prilosec and Nexium to protect and even enhance the sales of both drugs. In another move by drug companies that may improve their revenue streams at the cost of your health, AstraZeneca (Nexium) and TAP Pharmaceutical Products (Prevacid) have purchased newspaper ads across the country, selling the virtues of their worthless proton pump inhibitors (PPI) by warning former users of COX-2 inhibitors like Celebrex and Vioxx who have sought "safer" painkilling alternatives they may be at risk of stomach problems.

Knowing how drug companies strategize to keep their coffers full at the expense of marginalizing your health, this bold move isn't at all surprising. A quote by one medical expert summed up the problem perfectly: "This is marketing, not science. The vast majority of patients who take pain pills have no stomach problems."

The price tag to patients without health coverage who get spooked enough to request a worthless proton pump inhibitor (PPI) like Nexium or Prevacid: some $1,500 annually. And the cost of those newspaper ads is a relative drop in the bucket compared to the $300 million both AstraZeneca and TAP spent on all media buys, including those on TV, two years ago.

The estimated sales for Prevacid and Nexium in 2004: $3.8 billion apiece!

However, those ads won't inform you about the hidden dangers of taking either worthless drug. In particular, a study I posted last fall that found both Prevacid and Nexium doubles your risk of pneumonia.

Chicago Tribune March 6, 2005

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