As a consumer, you have to see through the hype that the drug companies put out. Medrants points to an excellent article explaining why drug prices are so high – and the role of pharmaceutical hype. One section deals with the Nexium story:

Nexium has become a symbol of everything that is wrong with the pharmaceutical industry. The big drug companies justify the high prices they charge—and the extraordinary profits they enjoy—by arguing that the search for innovative, life-saving medicines is risky and expensive. But Nexium is little more than a repackaged version of an old medicine. And the hundred and twenty dollars a month that AstraZeneca charges isn’t to recoup the costs of risky research and development; the costs were for a series of clinical trials that told us nothing we needed to know, and a half-billion-dollar marketing campaign selling the solution to a problem we’d already solved. “The Prilosec pattern, repeated across the pharmaceutical industry, goes a long way to explain why the nation’s prescription drug bill is rising an estimated 17 % a year even as general inflation is quiescent,” the Wall Street Journal concluded . . .

Another example is Singulair for allergic rhinitis – as has been discussed before:

It is certainly not mentioned in the commercial that Singulair is only good as a 2nd or 3rd line therapy for seasonal allergies. Advertisements like this only do a disservice to both patients and physicians – both of whom takes a backseat to profits on the drug companies’ list of priorities.

This recent meta-analysis says the same thing:

Leukotriene receptor antagonists are modestly better than placebo, as effective as antihistamines, but less effective than nasal corticosteroids in improving symptoms and quality of life in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Bottom-line: don’t always believe the hype you see on TV and have a critical eye towards the evidence.

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