This story hit the wires yesterday and got picked up in other publications today. Colorful quotes often drive that level of interest. As reported on EurekaAlert, Professor Donald Light, a sociologist at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, presented his analysis of the pharmaceutical industry business model. He asserts that the pharma industry is a "market for lemons" in which the seller knows much more than the buyer and uses the unbalanced information to sell products that are less effective and less safe than consumers are led to believe.
Three reasons cited by Prof. Light for the pharm industry's "lemon production" are:
- Developer companies in charge of testing their own drugs
- Legal protections that allow information about harms and effectiveness to be hidden
- Low bar for drug efficacy that must be met for a new drug to be approved
According to this study, "independent reviewers" found that about 85 percent of new drugs offer few if any new benefits. Yet, toxic side effects or misuse of prescription drugs now make prescription drugs a significant cause of death in the United States. Sobering if it were true. Light has dubbed this the "Risk Proliferation Syndrome".
Certainly the rhetoric and claims in this paper entitled, "Pharmaceuticals: a Two-Tier Market for Producing 'Lemons' and Serious Harm" are titilating. No doubt that's why you can read more commentary in a couple other spots: PharmaGossip blog and Telegraph via PharmaGossip.
Undoubtedly these assertions are somewhat overstated, but given these feelings are shared by others, it is not surprising that we have greater impetus being placed on "comparative effectiveness" which is really aimed at combating "me-tooism" and marginally incremental benefits of new medicines. Basically, the gauntlet has been thrown down to justify your worth.
Posted by Bruce Lehr August 18th 2010.