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Chipping Away at Pharmaceutical Company Arrogance

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So Many Medicines: Which to Choose?

A physician couple has made a decade long effort to change the confusing, uninformative packaging labels on the drugs we take everyday. They have lobbied the FDA but were struck down and had to start their own company, funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to get the message across. I think the section on other things to try is the most helpful. So many times we take a drug thinking it is the only alternative when there are so many other things we can do first. The example they provide about trying behavioral strategies for inducing sleep are spot on. For example, would you rather take a drug that can impair your ability to think at night. Think about the mom or dad with a baby who wakes up in the middle of the night or a son/daughter of an elderly parent who takes a fall. Do you really want to be impaired when those things happen? With long term use, there are other hazards to taking sleeping agents. I’ve documented them on this video.

I would add just one other section on the label. How the drug you’re thinking of taking compares to older, more established drugs. Most of the time, an older drug is not only equally effective, but much cheaper. Take Prozac for example. Compared to the newer antidepressant, Pristiq, the difference in price is like night and day.

Pristiq: 30 tablets (50 mg) cost 228.48

Prozac: 30 tablets (20 mg) cost 4.00

As a prescriber, I think Prozac is much more effective and it’s been around for 3 decades. Drug companies don’t want you to know that because they won’t make a profit on Prozac like they will with the newer antidepressants. I applaud anyone who makes the effort to educate the consumer about the sometimes absurd concessions we are forced to make  just because we aren’t as rich or powerful as the pharmaceutical companies.

Here’s the story on NPR 




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