Drug Companies' Best Marketers? Doctors

Monday, November 06, 2006

Drug Companies' Best Marketers? Doctors

Part of the reason why America's health care costs are rising so far above inflation may be the fact that doctors are prescribing drugs to patients for uses that were not intended. A case in point from Friday's Wall Street Journal (subscription req'd for full article):
... thousands of Americans ... are prescribed Actiq, an extremely potent narcotic, for ailments that have nothing to do with its intended use. The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug eight years ago for use only in cancer patients who suffer intense bouts of pain that other narcotics don't relieve.
In the first half of this year, oncologists, or cancer doctors, accounted for only 1% of the 187,076 Actiq prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies in the U.S. ...
What's the point of the FDA prohibiting drug companies from marketing or advertising drugs for off-label purposes if it allows doctors to prescribe them for whatever purpose they wish?

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