Getting a new car or camera model is often equated to pills as well…that the newer version is an improvement over the old. But experience has taught doctors that this is not necessarily true..especially when it comes to medications.
While drug pharmas may go to town extolling the virtues of their new drug releases (which they claim to have undergone extensive research and FDA-approved), it is easy for doctors and the public to be swayed by these promises and switch to the new. Some doctors know this can sometimes backfire. For instance, newer meds have a shorter track record of usage, sometimes not enough for side-effects to appear which escaped scrutiny during the drug trial period. After prolonged use, previously-undetected side-effects can surface which may even lead to eventual withdrawal of the drug from the market.
A case in point: at the ongoing American Heart Association (AHA) meeting in Orlando, Florida, November 2011, it was revealed that a popular anti-cholesterol medication Crestor was not significantly better than the older more popular Lipitor that it intended to replace, in terms of reversing cholesterol blockages in arteries.
For the makers of Crestor, AstraZeneca, this is a double-blow: it had sponsored the clinical trial to demonstrate its superiority over its rival(the SATURN trial). Now that this failed to materialise, it is going to find it tougher to market its drug once its rival loses its patent rights this month.(This means bona fide pharmas can produce non-branded versions, aka generic types, which are considerably cheaper.)
This is of course good news to consumers who now can buy generic Lipitor, at a fraction of the price before, knowing full well that they will not lose benefits extolled by the newer ones. My take-home message though, is that none of the pills are going to work well if one does not incorporate it with change in life-style habits..
- Astra’s Crestor Is Comparable to Lipitor in Study (online.wsj.com)