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Poll: Patients Unhappy With Rx Drugs

Consumer Reports Survey Shows People Frustrated by Drug Costs and Worry About Safety

Industry Perspective

Victoria Davis, a spokeswoman for Pfizer, which makes overactive bladder drugs, takes exception with the report and Santa's views about marketing. In a statement, she says:

"We have always been committed to responsible advertising that provides clear information about medical conditions and treatments. We adhere to all requirements on DTC [direct-to-consumer] communications set forth by the FDA and the FTC, as well as guidelines set by Television Advertising Standards and Practices and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)."

"Our advertising campaign for Toviaz encourages people with overactive bladder who may be just coping to talk to their doctor about their symptoms and ask if Toviaz may be right for them. The ads also include important safety information."

Second Opinion

Allen J. Vaida, PharmD, a spokesman for the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, who reviewed the survey for WebMD, says he was surprised poll respondents showed a ''lack of understanding about generic drugs, the fact people think they are not as good, may not work as well."

The findings about people skipping medication due to financial concerns reflect anecdotal reports, Vaida tells WebMD. "Having it come out in the polls should be another wake-up call that some people are cutting corners" due to drug costs, he says, and not always in safe ways.

The practice of pill splitting to save money, he says, ''makes us nervous. Some medicines aren't meant to be split. You may not get the correct dose."

The perception that drug companies are controlling prescribing practices may be slightly out of proportion, Vaida tells WebMD, as new regulations and ethical guidelines about the relations between pharmaceutical companies and doctors have been phasing in. For instance, the American Medical Association has issued guidelines about pharmaceutical company gifts, consulting fees, and free samples.

''We know from this survey and others, consumers are not finding out about safety issues," says Santa. He urges consumers to ask their doctors about side effects of new medications.

Vaida urges consumers to ask for generic drugs, typically less expensive. "Patients may be shy about telling doctors they are having a hard time financially," he says. But they shouldn't be, he says.

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