Doctors prefer prescribing newer blood pressure drugs
Physicians are more likely to prescribe newer anti-hypertensives than their less expensive predecessors recommended by the Joint National Commission on High Blood Pressure Treatment, according to a study published in the December Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed 1,700 primary care physicians, finding that most believed diuretics were less effective and that beta-blockers had more side effects than calcium channel blockers or ACE inhibitors. They also found that those who favored more expensive drugs were also more likely to give patients free drug samples.
“These new, more expensive medications are being more heavily promoted by the drug companies, and one way or another that information influences how people perceive the drug’s effectiveness,” said Peter A. Ubel, MD, lead author and associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. “I think a lot of physicians rely on sales representatives to tell them about the latest medications out there. The industry influence is pervasive.”
The recent ALLHAT trial demonstrated the generic, cheaper diuretic therapy worked as well, if not better, than other medications. With so many generic options available today for blood pressure, there really should be no reason that brand-name medications are first-line.