ArchivesPharmaceutical Marketing

The Ties That Bind − Topical Psoriasis Marketplace

In the past few years, there have been some interesting developments in the topical psoriasis treatment marketplace. Are these developments, which occurred after a popular topical prescription medication went generic, interrelated or just a random series of events? Unlike a puzzle, where all the pieces fit together perfectly, there is no way to be sure.

Demonstrating the existence of questionable business practices is tough, especially since pharmaceutical companies rarely jump up and down to cheer their pursuit of the profit motive. Still, as a skeptic with years of experience witnessing how far the pharmaceutical industry will go to sell products, I sometimes find myself piecing together pieces of news that might seem unrelated to the casual reader. Read more → →

Something Smells Fishy − Prescription Drug Coupons

Last week there was a news story about Sanofi-Aventis SA overcharging state Medicaid programs by manipulating its “best price” for its anti-inflammatory nasal sprays. This got me thinking about why the Justice Department doesn’t go after pharmaceutical companies for issuing coupons and discount cards.

The details of these offers vary, but generally, the patient downloads a coupon for an expensive brand-name prescription medication and takes it to the pharmacy along with a prescription from their doctor. The consumer is happy with the price break. The programs appeal to physicians because their patients can afford to take their medications.

However, I have always found it fishy that these cards cannot be used by patients covered by Medicaid and Medicare. Call me skeptical; however, doesn’t this artificially inflate the price of drugs? Read more → →

Accentuate the Positive – Abilify

Drug companies rarely lie to doctors. They just hammer away at points that put their drug in an advantageous light. In their defense, drug companies pursue a popular adage that we learned as kids, ‘accentuate the positive, minimize the negative’.

In order to increase market share, drug companies invest large sums of money to shape and manage the clinical messages that are delivered about their drugs, whether in the form of advertising, CME, speaker presentations, clinical research, scientific publications, news stories, or clinical guidelines. They do this because it is a proven formula –when you control what’s communicated to doctors and consumers, you control what gets prescribed.

Unfortunately, drug company marketing often leaves out critical details. The details may appear in small print, but first impressions are what counts. Since pharmaceutical companies have a lot of money to spend on marketing, they do a superb job inundating physicians and consumers with positive messages that promote use of their drugs. As a result, we hear more about the side of the story that the drug company wants to tell than the more detailed accounts delivered in unbiased sources like Medical Letter, AHRQ Eisenberg Center Guides, Independent Drug Information Service or Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Abilify DTC Landing Page for Depression. If you were a patient with depression, you might be inspired to ask your primary care physician or psychiatrist for Abilify after seeing this. However, most folks’s enthusiasm for taking Abilify would wane considerably if the following important safety information, which appears in small print when one scrolls to the bottom of the page, were the size of the headline:

**Serious [Abilify] side effects may include: Abnormal or uncontrollable movements of face, tongue, or other parts of body. These may be signs of a serious condition called tardive dyskinesia (TD), which could become permanent

**Most common side effects (≥10%) from all clinical trials involving adults include: ADULTS: Nausea, vomiting, constipation, headache, dizziness, an inner sense of restlessness or need to move (akathisia), anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness

**It is important to contact your healthcare professional if you experience prolonged, abnormal muscle spasm or contraction which may be signs of a condition called dystonia.