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Poll: Patients Unhappy With Rx Drugs

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

In an interview with WebMD, Santa focused on the advertising issue, using as an example overactive bladder drugs. "Last year the industry spent $126.9 million for five overactive bladder drugs," he says. "The most popular three had total revenues of more than a billion."

He takes issue with the ads themselves. "They give you the impression the problem is more serious [than it typically is] and that treatment with drugs should be the first thing you do, when in fact for most of the people who have problems with incontinence it's a mild to moderate problem that almost universally gets better with exercise programs [such as Kegels] or bladder training."

Side effects, he says, are downplayed in ads and commercials.

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."

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