Thursday, July 05, 2007

Drug Industry to Challenge Generic Medication

Those pharmaceutical companies are at it again, courtesy of the BBC:

Drugs firms have forced a judicial review over a government scheme which encourages GPs to switch their patients on to cheaper, generic medication.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) argues paying doctors to prescribe such drugs is illegal under European law.

It also claims that the scheme, which mainly involves cholesterol-lowering drugs, compromises patient safety.

Total bullshit. There is no difference whatsoever between generic drugs and their branded equivalents. The only drawback is that the big pharmaceuticals lose money if generic drugs are prescribed, rather than their products. The BBC even quotes a doctor who supports this claim:

"Doing all this for very small short-term financial gains is really ridiculous. I will fight to the death to defend doctors' rights to prescribe what they think is most clinically effective".

But this isn't about clinical effectiveness, the drugs are essentially the same. More likely, the doctor is more concerned with the money he receives from the pharmaceutical industry to influence his prescribing, rather than any 'clinical effectiveness'. Interestingly, the doctor in question is chairman of the British Medical Association's GP prescribing committee. In a report in 2003, the British Medical Journal claimed that:

this influence [from drug companies] may cause some doctors to prescribe unsuitable and unnecessary drugs.

The editor of the BMJ at the time of the report, also claimed that:

"Our central argument is that doctors, drug companies and most importantly patients would all benefit from greater distance between doctors and drug companies."

Obviously, Dr Peter Fellows of the BMA disagrees with this analysis, I wonder why that would be?