Keeping Drugmakers Honest

Do you have any interest in telling the FDA what you really think about drug ads? Well, then I have a campaign for you: check out Prescription for Change. Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, is running this grassroots push to gather 50,000 signatures to dump on the FDA’s doorstep — calling for better reporting of drug side effects.

Prescrip_for_change_logo Their beef is this:

“Drug companies often fail to present the benefits and risks of the products they advertise, and it often isn’t until a drug is out on the market and taken by millions that we see safety problems emerge. The easier it is for consumers to report side effects, the earlier the FDA will be able to detect potential safety hazards.”

Furthermore:

“The FDA’s current system for consumers to report drug side effects, called MedWatch is woefully inadequate; it’s estimated to collect only 1 to 10 percent of all adverse events — because consumers don’t know about it!”

“Last year, Congress passed legislation requiring all printed drug ads to include MedWatch’s 1-800 number, but left it to the FDA to determine if such information should also be included in TV ads. Their recommendation is due in March, and it’s time to let the FDA know we are serious about better reporting and giving consumers this potentially life-saving information.”

Check out their site to learn more.

On a related note, my buddy Fard is running an “experiment” over at his Healthcare Vox blog: can social media help clarify the debate over generic drugs? Can generics cause “a shifting profile of side effects” as the LA Times claims? Or is that just FUD spread by Big Pharma to discourage purchase of cheaper alternatives to their products? Fard wants to use the online forum (or his blog, at least :) to find out whether doctors or patients have any hard evidence that generic medications are not truly equivalent to their branded counterparts. Please go drop him a comment if you’d like to get involved.

What about generic drugs for diabetes, anyway? Are there many? Anybody using them? For my part, I’m still wondering if pricey insulin will ever go generic.

****** UPDATE 4/4/2008 ******

The Prescription for Change campaign has now exceeded expectations by gathering 56,000 signatures, and has received some excellent coverage in the LA Times — calling for TV drug ads to list a mandatory FDA consumer hotline number. Cool!

****** ****** ******

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6 Responses

  1. k2
    k2 March 19, 2008 at 8:25 am | | Reply

    Generic Insulin is something I wish for daily! My insurance only pays 40% of non-generic (i.e my insulin) verses 60% coverage for generic versions of drugs.
    Thank God my doctor gives me samples or I’d be more in debt than I currently am.

    I find it really ironic that before I meet my deductible for the year, the price of insulin goes down. When I’ve met my deductible, the price of my insulin magically goes up. Coincidence or the insurance companies getting blood from a stone? U be the judge.
    Diabetes is so expensive and if we cut corners, we risk complications and death. WE NEED A BREAK.

  2. Billy
    Billy March 19, 2008 at 4:27 pm | | Reply

    Thanks for talking about this. I blogged about this on Qvisory as well.

    Personally, I think the drug companies should be required to include this information in their TV ads, especially seeing as though they are required to do so in their print ads.

  3. Windy
    Windy March 20, 2008 at 5:44 am | | Reply

    Amen k2!

    I signed this petition… however, it does make me think about how Americans are becoming less and less of “think for myself” kind of people. I know before I shove any new drug into my body I’m gonna read the whole drug website, google it, and talk with my doc because deep down I know I’m my best healthcare advocate. Yes… they should post better side effect warnings… but in the end… we need to do research ourselves too.

  4. camille johnson
    camille johnson March 24, 2008 at 6:11 am | | Reply

    I, too, have wondered for years why insulin never goes generic. I am convinced that the drug companies pay off SOMEBODY to keep this cash cow operating on their behalf.

  5. Bob
    Bob April 3, 2008 at 2:08 pm | | Reply

    I have cured my type 2 Diabetes.

    I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes about 10 years ago. At first I just listened to my doctors that told me there was no cure for diabetes and I could treat my diabetes with diet, exercise and pills and live a normal life. The Doctors sent me to Diabetic schools, one that taught us what Diabetes is and how best to treat and live with it. Another doctor taught nutrition, mostly low fat eating and the best way to eat as a Diabetic.

    One of the things the schools taught me was that Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive disease and things would continue to get worse and worse, so they would continually changes my medications.

    Just like the doctors said, as the years went on, my blood sugar went up and up so they increased my meds. Not Satisfied with what I was taught at the schools I went to, I set out to do my own research. Things I learned were a bit scary, like all the drugs have bad side effects, even death as they kill off organs. That once you reach the limit (Maximum Dose) of one drug they have to switch to another drug until it is no longer useful. They keep this up until they run out of drugs to switch to. This usually happens in 1-20 years. Then there is not much they can do.

    I also learned that any blood sugar reading over 140 is harmful and that an average reading of 139= an A1C test of 6.9 that is why you want your A1C under 7.
    And that Diabetes has horrible side effects that include but not limited to:
     Blindness
     Kidney Failure
     Liver Failure
     Amputations
     Stokes
     Nerve Damage
     Heart Attacks
     Death

    If you can keep your blood sugar under 140, your A1C under 7 and keep an active life style you should be fine for a while. But time and Diabetes march on and you can end up with these complications, unless you die from something else before they set in. So the way I see it, the only way to not get any of these complications or dying a slow horrible death was to get rid of this debilitating disease that they said has no cure.

    For the last 10 years or more I started reading anything I could on diabetes. I found out that a cure was developed and our government paid them 30 million dollars to keep if off the market. People are being cured of type 2 diabetes every day.

    After 10 years of research and many interviews with many doctors and healthcare professionals I have finally cured my diabetes.

    What do I mean by “I Cured My Diabetes?” Before I was cured, here is what I had.

    After 10 years and eventually reaching my Maximum Dose of Glyburide and Glucophage (metformin) plus Lisinopril for High Blood pressure and Lovastatin for high cholesterol here is where I was at:

     I had Morning mg readings of 220-250mg. I have what is called the Dawn Syndrome, which means my blood sugar reading was high in the mornings (dawn) and would come down during the day.
     Daily I would get my mg down to about 110-120mg
     My A1C tests were around 6.7 to 7.4 (testing twice a year)
     My blood Pressure was around 140’ over 90’s.
     My Cholesterol was in the 300’s
     I tired easily. I had bad days where I just did not feel like doing anything,
     I had low days where my mg was below 70 and I felt real light headed and faint.

    Remember all this is while taking the maximum allowable drugs.

    Now that I am cured here is where I am.

     Morning reading of 90-100
     Daily reading around 90-100
     Average reading of 95
     A1C of around 4.7 – 5
     Blood pressure of 120’s over 70’s
     Cholesterol in the 200s

    All this without any drugs, no meds of any kind, and with out eating a restrictive diet. I eat a normal healthy diet. I don’t workout at gyms or even a home gym, which would be beneficial to overall health, but I am active. Now I have a lot of energy.

    I am not a Doctor or health care professional in anyway, but with those numbers, I believe it would be hard for anyone to test me and say I have Diabetes. I may still have the underlying cause (I don’t know) but ,any complications I have will be minimized and I should be able to live a full healthy life.

    If you would like to learn how I achieved these results please go to http://www.whenhealthmatters.com and learn ”The How-to’s” and programs I did to cure my diabetes.

  6. Monica
    Monica April 4, 2008 at 5:45 am | | Reply

    Walmart has a partnership with novonordisk that technically is generic marketing of insulin. R, N, and mixes can be purchased for 20 dollars.

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