Pharmaceuticals Anonymous

Monday, February 23, 2009

Need, not Greed: Canadian Federation of Nurses Calls for Pharmacare

From the Canadian Federation of Nurses' Statement:
Drugs now rank second after hospitals in terms of share of total health care spending,
having overtaken spending on physicians in 1997. The share of total spending going to
drugs rose from 9.5 percent in 1985 to 16.2 percent in 2002. Spending on drugs is expected
to hit 16.7 percent of total health care spending in 2004, while spending on physicians will
be just 12.9 percent.3

The rapid rise in drug costs is primarily due to the ongoing substitution of newer, more
expensive drugs in place of existing, less expensive products. The newer drugs, in the
majority of cases, have no added benefit. Of the 117 drugs with new ingredients introduced
in Canada between 1998 and 2002, only 15 provided a substantial improvement over
existing drugs.4 The rest are “me-too” drugs that offer little or no therapeutic advances over
existing therapies but are responsible for 80 percent of the increased expenditure on drugs.5

Aggressive advertising by drug companies drives consumption of these me-too drugs.6
Apart from advertising directly to consumers, drug companies spend approximately
$30,000 per year for every doctor in Canada on drug samples, sales rep contact,
conferences, trips and giveaways.7 The influence of pharmaceutical companies on research,
education and clinical practice has also been widely documented.8 Both patients and
doctors are influenced by the onslaught,9 with the result that drug costs are skyrocketing
but health outcomes are not necessarily improving.

Pdf here