Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Drug Company Wierdness

So, on the side I make a few bucks participating in market research for various companies, reviewing ad campaigns, drug data, etc. I had one of these meetings last night.

There is currently a drug (let's call it Trepiac) on the market for a particular neurological disease. Trepiac is given once a day, is very expensive, and is of only mild benefit at best. But it's a big seller because there ain't much else out there.

Trepiac is going generic in a few years. So what is it's parent company doing? Inventing a new drug to help cure this horrible disease? F--K NO! The meeting was to consider marketing concepts for Trepiac-XR, a NEW, ONCE DAILY form of Trepiac, which is already taken once a day as is!

Sound stupid? I think so too. And this is where research dollars are being spent.


Anonymous said...

I think that the company is likely spending big dollars on other medications for neurological disease (since both that and oncology of the most profitable). I also think the company needs a lot of money to fund this research and one way to get these funds is through additional research on existing meds in an extended release formulation for NEW INDICATIONS that the old formulation does not have. I don't know of the federal government bringing any new products to market. I think it is only the pharma and biotech companies. Where are they supposed to get the funds if not from sales of existing products. The companies also give billions of dollars away in free medications to uninsured, underinsured and those that are the victims of catastrophe (like Hurricane Katrina victims). I also wonder how you define mild benefit for patients. In the old days of treating neurological disease it was acceptable to make everyone drooling zombies with medications that had bad side effects. All of the newer meds, that you say have mild benefit at best, are at least better tolerated, the patients tend to be more adherent, and I'm sure the patient and their families appreciate this Mild Benefit if it helps the patient function better. Lastly I do know of a pharma company working on many new compouds in neurological disease that have unfortunately failed in the Phase 2 setting. It is costly to get drugs to that phase. It is right that we have systems in place to test drugs to make sure they are safe before bringing them to market (unlike the herbal medicine companies that can make any claim on efficacy and do not have any obligation to test safety). I guess you could say that the companies research dollars were blown looking into these investigational products, but at least they were looking for new and or better options. I wouldn't be so quick to demonize these companies when they are the only ones funding research into new therapies. I don't see the countries with socialized medications bringing any new products to the FDA.

mary_bc said...

I think you have a point as does the above poster. Everything can be made better, opposite sides just have to agree to reach that point together.

History tells us that is not so simple.

amsieime said...

mr anonymous,
i think u have your point there..i also wanted to share an opinion..

..The companies also give billions of dollars away in free medications to uninsured, underinsured and those that are the victims of catastrophe (like Hurricane Katrina victims)..
i don't think they do charity solely because they are nice..if i am not mistaken this is done so that the drug company is being excluded from the TAX..and sadly speaking, sometimes it is as an experimental purpose also..not that i have anything against drug company..they always give freebies such as pens, files and held annual dinner in fancy hotel..i appreciate is just that this is the world of business..

just my two cents..

p/s: for dr grumpy, i just found your blog..and become your follower..i hope you don't mind.. ;)

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Not at all, Amsiene, thank you for following!

I should point out however, that starting in 2009 the drug companies are no longer allowed to give away pens, files, fancy dinners, etc.

ashleigh said...

Are they allowed to give away fancy dinners, bottles of wine, and "education" in nice holiday destinations?

Cos they are in the land down under.

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Nope, not anymore here. They can take a group of doctors to a dinner, but NO spouses, office staff, etc. And the dinner must have a speaker presentation to discuss a drug- NO casual chatting allowed.

I bitched about this in a post on January 8, 2009. As you can see from reading it, the Italians have beaten both our countries at creative marketing.

Pharmer Jane said...

What is their big selling point going to be? Better adherence due to decreased GI effects? It surely can't be easier dosing. Will it at least be available in different strengths per tablet than the current one is? I specialize in geriatrics, and at least half of my patients are on this particular med (if you're writing about the same one I'm thinking of). I imagine there will be lots of med errors if the regular and XR are both available as 10mg

Grumpy, M.D. said...

It's a good question, Pharmer Jane, and I honestly don't know what the answer it.

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