NPR and drug advertising
Because I know my readers have too much free time (after all, how else did they find this site?) I would urge you to listen to this NPR program, "Justice Talking" which was an hour-long debate about drug approvals. The show aired last Spring, during Pharmablogger's hiatus. But nothing escapes my attention!
The debate was actually quite tame. Schering-Plough Chief Medical Officer Dr Bob Spiegel squared off against Dr Alastair Wood, of Vanderbilt and the NEJM. Dr Wood was far more reserved in his comments than Marcia Angell of Mr Goozner would have been. He defended profit motive as a driver for new drugs, and does not think they are approved too quickly. However, his remarks about post-marketing surveillance incentives were interesting. He would tie approval for Direct to Consumer (DTC) advertising, as well as exclusive formulary listing, to completion of Phase IV safety studies. He also acknowledges the 1st amendment issues, however. I thought this tied in nicely to the previous post about Bill Frist's DTC suggestions.
Economics and Health
Right on the heels of that article about pill-splitting being endorsed by insurers, we learn one of the largest pharmacy benefit managers, Express Scripts, has reported no cost increases from 2004 for companies and organizations that utilized a step program for prescriptions. The step programs consist of using older, less expensive and usually generic drugs before stepping up to newer, more expensive therapies. The article is from Managed Care Weekly, with no link available. No year-to-year cost increases? Hello, GM? Anyone home?