[PHNUTR-L] BMJ: Pricey new versions of old drugs fuelling huge rise
in drug spending
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD
fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com
Fri Sep 2 06:11:26 PDT 2005
Colleagues, the following is FYI and does not necessarily reflect my own
opinion. I have no further knowledge of the topic.
Public release date: 1-Sep-2005
Contact: Emma Dickinson
edickinson at bmj.com
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Pricey new versions of old drugs fuelling huge rise in drug spending
'Breakthrough' drugs and growth in expenditure on prescription drugs in
Canada BMJ Online First
Newly patented versions of old drugs are driving the rapid growth in
expenditure on prescription drugs in most developed countries, without
offering substantial improvements over existing products, finds a study
published online by the BMJ today.
The rising cost of using these "me-too" drugs at prices far exceeding
those of time-tested competitors deserves careful scrutiny, say the
authors, based at the University of British Columbia in Canada, where
spending on drugs doubled between 1996 and 2003.
They used classifications from the Canadian Patented Medicine Prices
Review Board to examine which drugs drove this expenditure growth.
Between 1990 and 2003, the board appraised 1147 newly patented drugs. Of
these, 68 (5.9%) met the regulatory criterion of being a breakthrough
drug (defined as the first drug to treat effectively a particular
illness or which provides a substantial improvement over existing drug
The balance of the newly patented drugs did not provide a substantial
improvement over existing products, so were classified as "me-to" drugs.
Older drugs (available before 1990) were classified as "vintage brand"
or "vintage generic" drugs.
Breakthrough drugs accounted for 6% of expenditure and 1% of use in
1996, and 10% of expenditure and 2% of use in 2003.
Vintage brand and vintage generic drugs combined accounted for 75% of
total use in 1996 and 54% in 2003, but only 53% and 27% of total annual
expenditure. In contrast, me-too drugs accounted for 44% of use and 63%
of expenditure by 2003. Their average cost per day of treatment was
twice that of vintage brand drugs and four times that of vintage generic
Given that the list of top 20 drugs in global sales includes newly
patented versions of older drugs, me-too drugs probably dominate
spending trends in most developed countries, conclude the authors.
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD < fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com >
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