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Drug Profits to Plunge as Top Patents Expire: Mixed Blessing?

Drug Profits to Plunge as Top Patents Expire: Mixed Blessing?

Over the next 14 months, patents for seven of the world’s top-selling brand-name drugs are set to expire – including heavy hitters like Lipitor and Plavix. Revenues the pharma companies earn from these drugs will plunge overnight as generic competitors enter the market, and the fallout for patients may be a mixed blessing. Selling these drugs over the counter may help some brand-name companies deal with the loss and maintain some revenue from their products. Pfizer, for example, may request that the FDA allow them to market the cholesterol-lowering statin, Lipitor, over the counter once its patent expires in November. Patients would also benefit. Over-the-counter medications tend to be significantly cheaper than prescription drugs and generics. Drugs that have successfully made the transition over the counter include Claritin and Zyrtec for allergies or Prilosec for heartburn. While the side effects of statins are minimal, the availability of these drugs over the counter has posed some concerns for physicians. High-risk patients may end up being undertreated without being under a physician’s care and low-risk patients may unnecessarily take the medication. Physician’s Weekly wants to know… Do you feel that offering some of these drugs over the counter is a good way to save your patients and the healthcare system money? What are the negative consequences that could result from this...
Most Americans Using Alternative Therapies: Consumer Reports

Most Americans Using Alternative Therapies: Consumer Reports

A Consumer Reports survey found that while most Americans would choose prescription drugs to treat 12 common conditions, roughly 75% partake in alternative therapies, such as yoga and acupuncture. The survey of 45,601 people suggests that about 38 million adults nationwide visit acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and other complementary therapy providers a combined 300 million times per year, according to the publication’s report. While dietary supplements ranked well below OTC medications in many cases, chiropractic treatment, deep-tissue massage, and yoga dominated the list of alternative therapies for back and neck pain and osteoarthritis. Furthermore, 73% of respondents said they took mainstream vitamins and minerals, making these the most widely used alternatives for general health; other dietary supplements (57%) and mind-body or hands-on therapies (~20%) were also reported as alternatives. When Consumer Reports asked respondents why they chose a given alternative treatment, most people said they were simply “a proponent” of it. “Some people use these therapies because it’s just the way they were raised,” said Richard Nahin, PhD, MPH, senior adviser, scientific coordination and outreach, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, NIH. He added that some respondents said they had gone through a transformational process that made them look at life differently. Some believed—in many cases mistakenly—that dietary supplements are safer than prescription medications because they are natural. Others chose alternatives to avoid the side effects of prescription medications for some conditions. The survey also suggests that physicians are selective when endorsing dietary supplements. They tended to direct patients toward fish oil, glucosamine, and chondroitin, which have some clinical evidence behind them. And although quite rare, according to...
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