PHARMACY

NCL: Patients concerned about therapeutic substitution

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Nearly 75% of consumers would feel “very concerned” if a drug they used was switched to another drug designed to treat the same condition without their doctors’ knowledge, according to a new survey by the National Consumers League. One-in-5 said they still would be concerned if their doctors knew.

The practice, known as therapeutic substitution, has become common among insurance companies as healthcare costs have increased. The practice involves switching a medication that is not chemically equivalent or simply a generic version, but belongs to the same class as what the patient already takes.

“Consumers are justifiably concerned about the practice of therapeutic substitution, how it’s done and who’s involved,” NCL executive director Sally Greenberg said. “For some conditions and treatments, it may make good financial and medical sense to swap out one prescription for another. But, as consumers reported in our survey, it’s essential for them to be part of the process, to know their doctor is aware and supportive of the switch and to feel confident that their health and treatment – not financial incentives – are top priority.”

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Merck gets nod from FDA for Dulera

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug by Merck for treating asthma in patients ages 12 years and older, Merck said Thursday.

The FDA approved Dulera (mometasone furoate and formoterol fumarate dihydrate), an inhaled, fixed-dose combination asthma treatment.

“Despite the advances made in the treatment of asthma in recent years, many patients may still not be well-controlled on their current therapies,” University of Tennessee Health Science Center medical professor Michael Blaiss said in a statement on behalf of Merck. “Asthma control is an important treatment goal, and Dulera provides a new option for physicians to help manage this chronic condition in appropriate patients.”

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FDA approves Mylan’s version of Procardia XL

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic drug made by Mylan for heart disease, Mylan said Thursday.

Mylan announced the approval of nifedipine extended-release tablets in the 30, 60 and 90 mg strengths. The drug is used to treat hypertension and angina.

The drug is a generic version of Pfizer’s Procardia XL. Branded and generic versions of the drug had sales of around $234 million during the 12-month period ended in March, according to IMS Health.

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