Nearly three-quarters of antidepressants in the U.S. were prescribed by non-psychiatrists in 2007, up from 60% a decade earlier, according to the analysis of a national sample of 233,144 doctor office visits, the latest data available. The percentage of these patients prescribed antidepressants without being diagnosed with a mental illness more than doubled in that period to 6.4% in 2007 from 2.5% in 1996. The findings spark concern about whether these medicines are effective for the patients receiving them, since previous research has shown that antidepressants are most effective for people with severe symptoms.
Dendreon went from forecasting sales of $350 million to $400 million to the year to withdrawing guidance because its second quarter sales came in 10% below Wall Street’s $55 million estimate. The reason that relatively small miss is worth $2.5 billion of the company’s market capitalization is that it has never been clear how big a seller Provenge will be. The new problem facing Provenge, which Dendreon is calling “cost density,” would certainly explain what went wrong in the quarter. Not only is Provenge very expensive ($93,000 per patient), but doctors must outlay all this cost themselves until Medicare or insurance companies pay them back.
Pfizer Inc. wants to introduce a version of its popular cholesterol pill Lipitor that consumers could buy without a doctor’s prescription, according to people familiar with the matter. The effort, if successful, could help Pfizer squeeze new sales life out of the world’s best-selling drug in the years after Lipitor loses U.S. patent protection in November, which will trigger sales-eroding generic competition that will eat into Lipitor’s current yearly haul of nearly $11 billion. But Pfizer likely faces an uphill battle because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has previously rejected the idea of allowing over-the-counter versions of cholesterol drugs in the same class as Lipitor—known as statins—because of concerns that consumers aren’t able to properly use the drugs without a doctor’s guidance.
Express Scripts Deal Hurts Everyone Last month, Express Scripts announced plans to buy Medco Health Solutions, a rival pharmacy benefit manager, for $29 billion. The deal quickly raised antitrust questions, given that the combined company will hold a dominant share of the PBM and specialty pharmacy markets. Russell Gay, executive director of the Independent Specialty Pharmacy Coalition, a group of 20 such operations, about fears these smaller players will be muscled out of the market. ”Any time we have a company that reaches 50 percent or more in distribution reach, we‘re talking about the possibility of a monopoly or such leverage that it could eliminate access to drugs.”
In its April 2011 survey, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions found that 11% of US healthcare consumers use social networks to find or share health information and 8% use blogs. The respondents who use blogs and social networks for health purposes do so to comment about the healthcare system, to comment about doctors and hospitals and to share personal healthcare experiences with others.
Mergers and acquisitions have had a “devastating” effect on research and development efforts at drug companies over the next decade, according to John L. LaMattina, who ranPfizer’s R&D laboratories from 2003 until 2007. This could lead to fewer new drugs being invented at a time when “our understanding of the basis of diseases continues to increase substantially,” LaMattina writes in a scientific article published today.
Thoughts on some stories this week…
There were two things that caught my eye this week. The first was the story that facing intensifying scrutiny over one of its bone growth products,Medtronic announced Wednesday that it was giving a $2.5 million grant to Yale to oversee a complete review of the study data that examined the product’s safety and effectiveness. So what happens if Yale researchers do in fact conclude that Medtronic’s bone growth products do now work as effectively as promoted and do have more negative effects ? More importantly is the data that Medtronic is giving to these researchers ALL the data ? Today these are the key questions that have to answered in an era of transparency to build trust. I applaud the move but no matter what Yale researchers say there are going to continue to be questions around “the data”.
The other story that is quite disturbing is the story around Provenge. How could a biopharma company market a product like Provenge and expect physicians to lay out close to $100,000 while awaiting reimbursement ? What is so upsetting here is that this could keep the product out of the hands of physicians who really need it for their patients and that more men could die because of that. To market the drug without some type of financial arrangement is frankly really poor business planning and management by Dendreon’s people.
One other thing..the chance that the FDA will allow Lipitor to go OTC is slim and none. It’s not going to happen so Pfizer can concentrate on taking Viagra OTC.
- Dendreon Lowers Sales Projections for Provenge (prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Coming Soon: Over-the-Counter Lipitor? (abcnews.go.com)
- The Great U.S. Depression: Antidepressant Pill Popping Numbers Up (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Have You Ever Taken Antidepressants? (fitsugar.com)
- Antidepressants Prescribed Without Psychiatric Diagnosis (webmd.com)