Monday, April 5, 2010

The Truth About Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It

Tags: Sick Americans, Low Fiber Foods, Obesity, High Fructose Sugar, Marketing Drugs on TV, Low Vitamin D, Sunscreens, Alzheimer's Disease, Senior Drugs High Cost

Since it became legal to advertise on television, Americans spent $250 Billion in 2005 for prescription drugs. Americans also use more prescription drugs than most of Europe including the UK, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina combined! Of course Big Parma has been increases prices much higher than inflation in a friendly Bush administration and high priced Medicare D Advantage without paying for it, so I would not be surprised if it is up to $500 billion now or higher!

Read "Our Daily Meds" by Melody Petersen, 2008, a New York Times Award winning journalist. On the cover page Marcia Angell of Harvard highly recommends Petersen's book.

I would not be surprised that Big Pharma went bonkers and had her removed from the NY Times. The publishers may also have been pressured to stop printing it. Thank you . We must stop allowing advertising on television! Only the United States and New Zealand allow this.

It almost seems that the Big Five Food Producer Processors, Fast Food Companies, our Department of Agriculture, and the sunscreen industry (Americans have low vitamin D, the miracle hormone) collaborated the Drug Companies by giving them up to one hundred million sick American and Worldwide patients with high fructose, fiberless prepared foods, and high fat foods.

Even Chinese and Japanese kids are becoming obese in large numbers. Recently obese Americans outnumber overweight numbers. These facts are not mentioned very often with obesity reports neglecting to report well know causes for obesity. Probably high fructose corn sugar is used in just about everything to make tasteless prepared foods tasty.

This sugar prevents our appetite indicators to work so we eat until our stomach hurts! High Fructose corn sugar also forms deadly fats 30 percent of the time when metabolizing this sugar in the liver.

This leads to heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and probably Alzheimer's Disease which has finally been diagnosed as a synaptic brain connection disease and plaque is just a side show an over-abundance of proteins in the brain! When mice with Alzheimer's disease were subjected to an enzyme that gets rid of excess protein, the mice behave subsequently like young mice without Alzheimer's Disease in the maze.

The LDL-2 heavy form of LDL causes plaque formation and may be able to penetrate the brain where this protein can block the person's brain synapses causing dementia. We already know drugs such as Detrol and certain antihistamines do block the enzymes which protect us from excess protein in the brain and as recently seen, Beta-Amyloid does block synapses!

Most of these diseases should have been detected a lot earlier. The facts were there, but humans tend to believe the accepted fact or theories no matter what the facts show.

Jim Kawakami, April 5, 2010,

"The Truth About Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It.
Marcia Angell, MD, who was the former editor of the The New England Journal of Medicine. She was removed for being too aggressive about stopping Big Pharma from publishing fake endorsements and lying about the safety of their drugs.

Every day Americans are subjected to a barrage of advertising by the pharmaceutical industry. Mixed in with the pitches for a particular drug—usually featuring beautiful people enjoying themselves in the great outdoors—is a more general message. ...
Is any of this true? Well, the first part certainly is. Prescription drug costs are indeed high—and rising fast. Americans now spend a staggering $200 billion a year on prescription drugs, and that figure is growing at a rate of about 12 percent a year (down from a high of 18 percent in 1999).[1]

Drugs are the fastest-growing part of the health care bill—which itself is rising at an alarming rate. The increase in drug spending reflects, in almost equal parts, the facts that people are taking a lot more drugs than they used to, that those drugs are more likely to be expensive new ones instead of older, cheaper ones, and that the prices of the most heavily prescribed drugs are routinely jacked up, sometimes several times a year. ...

Before its patent ran out, for example, the price of Schering-Plough's top-selling allergy pill, Claritin, was raised thirteen times over five years, for a cumulative increase of more than 50 percent—over four times the rate of general inflation.[2] As a spokeswoman for one company explained, "Price increases are not uncommon in the industry and this allows us to be able to invest in R&D."[3] In 2002, the average price of the fifty drugs most used by senior citizens was nearly $1,500 for a year's supply. (Pricing varies greatly, but this refers to what the companies call the average wholesale price, which is usually pretty close to what an individual without insurance pays at the pharmacy.)

Paying for prescription drugs is no longer a problem just for poor people. As the economy continues to struggle, health insurance is shrinking. Employers are requiring workers to pay more of the costs themselves, and many businesses are dropping health benefits altogether. Since prescription drug costs are rising so fast, payers are particularly eager to get out from under them by shifting costs to individuals. The result is that more people have to pay a greater fraction of their drug bills out of pocket. And that packs a wallop.

Many of them simply can't do it. They trade off drugs against home heating or food. Some people try to string out their drugs by taking them less often than prescribed, or sharing them with a spouse. Others, too embarrassed to admit that they can't afford to pay for drugs, leave their doctors' offices with prescriptions in hand but don't have them filled. Not only do these patients go without needed treatment but their doctors sometimes wrongly conclude that the drugs they prescribed haven't worked and prescribe yet others—thus compounding the problem.

The people hurting most are the elderly. When Medicare was enacted in 1965, people took far fewer prescription drugs and they were cheap. For that reason, no one thought it necessary to include an outpatient prescription drug benefit in the program. In those days, senior citizens could generally afford to buy whatever drugs they needed out of pocket.

Approximately half to two thirds of the elderly have supplementary insurance that partly covers prescription drugs, but that percentage is dropping as employers and insurers decide it is a losing proposition for them. At the end of 2003, Congress passed a Medicare reform bill that included a prescription drug benefit scheduled to begin in 2006, but as we shall see later, its benefits are inadequate to begin with and will quickly be overtaken by rising prices and administrative costs.

For obvious reasons, the elderly tend to need more prescription drugs than younger people—mainly for chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol. In 2001, nearly one in four seniors reported that they skipped doses or did not fill prescriptions because of the cost. (That fraction is almost certainly higher now.) Sadly, the frailest are the least likely to have supplementary insurance. At an average cost of $1,500 a year for each drug, someone without supplementary insurance who takes six different prescription drugs—and this is not rare—would have to spend $9,000 out of pocket. Not many among the old and frail have such deep pockets.

Furthermore, in one of the more perverse of the pharmaceutical industry's practices, prices are much higher for precisely the people who most need the drugs and can least afford them. The industry charges Medicare recipients without supplementary insurance much more than it does favored customers, such as large HMOs or the Veterans Affairs (VA) system. Because the latter buy in bulk, they can bargain for steep discounts or rebates. People without insurance have no bargaining power; and so they pay the highest prices.

In the past two years, we have started to see, for the first time, the beginnings of public resistance to rapacious pricing and other dubious practices of the pharmaceutical industry. It is mainly because of this resistance that drug companies are now blanketing us with public relations messages. And the magic words, repeated over and over like an incantation, are research, innovation, and American. Research. Innovation. American. It makes a great story.

But while the rhetoric is stirring, it has very little to do with reality. First, research and development (R&D) is a relatively small part of the budgets of the big drug companies—dwarfed by their vast expenditures on marketing and administration, and smaller even than profits. In fact, year after year, for over two decades, this industry has been far and away the most profitable in the United States. ...

Value of Direct to Consumer Advertising Oversold Study Finds, But Direct to Doctor Much More Effective

The possible flaw in the Harvard study below could be that these were relatively new drugs and normally the advertising ramps up when they have a possible winner. A 2008 Harvard study taking advantage of the spill over of American advertising of three new drugs in English and French speaking parts of Canada saw a 48% increase in the use of one drug in the English speaking Canada for the first year compared with much smaller effects in the French Canada in Quebec. Note that 48% from a very small number is not that impressive.

The best thing a patient should do before filling his or her prescription is look the drug up and make sure it has been around seven years, the time it takes for all the side-effects and deaths to be common knowledge. For heaven sakes, even auto companies have routinely hid their defects as long as they can.

Smoking diminished strongly when an FDA head finally had the guts to strongly recommend not smoking because cigarettes can kill you. He also went out and communicated this instead of leaving it to die.

Jim Kawakami, April 5, 2010,

Advertising Oversold Study Finds ... Law and Soumerai chose to look at three specific drugs: Enbrel (rheumatoid arthritis), Nasonex (nasal allergies), and Zelnorm (irritable bowel sydrome). All three drugs were on the market for at least one year before the DTCA campaign began, and none were advertised in Canada through “softer” consumer ads, that is, ads that may mention the drug by name without identifying the relevant conditions.

The basic question was simple: did use of these drugs increase faster in English-speaking regions after American DTCA campaigns began? ...

Sales for Zelnorm, however, did spike noticeably in English-speaking Canada as soon as the ad campaign began. While prescriptions for this drug increased by over 40 percent, this jump was relatively short-lived, and after a few years, prescription rates in both groups resumed identical patterns. A similar analysis of U.S. Medicaid prescriptions found a slightly higher, but similarly brief, jump in sales.

The researchers hypothesize that DTCA may not be as effective as other types of consumer advertising due to the unique complexity of the marketing/sales trajectory.

With a typical consumer product, an individual sees an ad and then can choose to simply go out and buy the item. “But pharmaceuticals aren’t typical consumer products,” says Soumerai. “A person needs to see an ad, get motivated by that ad, contact their doctor for an appointment, show up at the appointment, communicate both the condition and the drug to the doctor, convince the doctor that this drug is preferable to other alternatives, then actually go out and fill the prescription. This is a chain of events that can break at any point.” ...

One hundred years of marketing experience and recent studies indicate that face-to-face promotion of drugs to doctors by pharmaceutical representatives is far more effective than DTCA. ...

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