PHARMACY

Survey looks at public reaction to direct-to-consumer drug ads

BY Drew Buono

McLEAN, Va. A new survey conducted by USA Today, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health showed that prescription drug ads prompted nearly one-third of Americans to ask their doctors about an advertised medicine, and 82 percent of those who ask say their physicians recommended a prescription. This is a result of the record $4.8 billion spent in 2006 on drug advertising; almost double the figure from 2002.

Among people who requested a drug, 44 percent said physicians gave the one they asked about, while slightly more than half said doctors prescribed a different drug. Sometimes, doctors did both. When duplicate answers were removed, the poll found 82 percent of patients got some type of prescription. This number is up from 75 percent in 2005.

Almost 1,700 adults were surveyed and also showed that 47 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of the drug industry, while 44 percent have an unfavorable view based on high prices and company greed as the reason for the unfavorable view.

Billy Tauzin, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry’s lobbying group, says many of those surveyed were likely reacting to increasing co-payments from insurers rather than escalating drug prices. Drug costs rose an average of 3.5 percent in 2006 over 2005, government data show.

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PHARMACY

Rx program more expensive than chain store prescriptions

BY Diana Alickaj

DENVER Rx Outreach, a Colorado program aimed at helping low-income people afford drugs for chronic diseases, was found to be more expensive for purchasing drugs than regular chain-store pharmacies.

A 90-day supply from a choice of 110 generics costs about $20 each, and three-dozen other drugs sell for $30 and $40. In contrast, Kmart’s program for a choice of 300 generic medications for a 90-day supply retails for $15, while Costco sells their prescriptions for about $10.66 and Walgreens sells them for about $12.99.

The program, Colorado Cares Rx, was unveiled this month by the Department of Health Care Policy and financing in partnership with Rx Outreach. The program was started by the state to develop a low-cost drug program, but the sponsors are finding it harder to compete with chain store rivals, based on pricing.

Officials claim growing pains, however. Rep. Alice Madden, D-Boulder, said “This is just a first step. We have to do more.”

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FDA approves Abilify for teens

BY Drew Buono

TOKYO and PRINCETON, N.J. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and Bristol-Myers Squibb drug application for Abilify for the acute treatment of manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder, with or without psychotic features in pediatric patients aged 10 to 17.

The approval is based on the results of a four-week study that compared Abilify to a placebo in treating pediatric patients with bipolar disorder I. Otsuka Pharmaceuticals sponsored the study.

“We are pleased that the FDA has approved Abilify to treat pediatric patients aged 10 to 17 years suffering from Bipolar I Disorder,” said Taro Iwamoto, Ph.D., chief executive officer, president and chief operating officer, Otsuka Pharmaceutical development and c commercialization. “The approval of this new indication for ABILIFY provides clinicians with expanded treatment options that can help address the therapeutic needs of this population.” 

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