Not One Public Penny More for Lipitor®

It is often said facetiously that the true measure of the success of an advertising campaign is that it compels its target to buy something that is not needed.  By this measure, the pharmaceutical industry is the true master of the craft.  What else explains the high proportion of the industry’s budget that goes to advertising and marketing spending more for ads than research!  But that is a subject for some future blog or comment below.  What I will highlight today is the stunningly successful campaign of the industry to induce us to pay $billions for overpriced brand-name drugs when the exact same drug (or one that is as or more safe and effective) is available for a small fraction of the price as a generic product.

What got me going today is the latest of a long series of full page ads in my local newspaper urging me to apply for Pfizer’s $4-CoPay Card that allows me to begin or continue to take brand-name Lipitor® to lower my cholesterol.  The CoPay Card promises an out-of-pocket cost to me of from $4 to $50 per month for perhaps one year.  The savings depends on whether or not I have prescription drug coverage as part of my health insurance, and how low my co-pays are.  As usual, those without any health insurance pay the highest prices.  Those of our neighbors do not have anyone negotiating discounts for them are stuck being billed for the full amount of whatever the healthcare industry thinks it can get away with. Continue reading “Not One Public Penny More for Lipitor®”

Safer to Buy Your Prescription Drugs in Canada?

I clipped an article from the Courier journal in December, 2010 entitled, “Pfizer issues 4th Lipitor recall” that was released by the Associated Press.  Although I had planned to focus on articles from the new year, a subsequent article about a recall of multiple products by Johnson & Johnson made the pair fair game.

The Lipitor recall was the most recent of a series reacting to an “uncharacteristic” odor.  The smell is blamed on a wood preservative often applied to wood pallets that might have been used to transport products.  The article quotes Pfizer that the use of such chemicals in the shipment of its products is prohibited.  (Are we are left to assume that the chemical tainted the pills in some other as yet unknown manner?)

The article goes on to mention that over 360,000 bottles of Lipitor have been recalled so far; that Lipitor is the best-selling prescription drug in the US; that other drug companies such as Johnson and Johnson have had trouble with smelly pills; and that the risk of serious harm from this particular contamination is remote.

The story about Johnson and Johnson is quite interesting.  As reported by Wall Street Journal and other sources,  Johnson & Johnson recalled tens of millions of packages of over 40 different medicines in 2010.     According to Reuters, at least one American Johnson & Johnson manufacturing plant “was closed to fix quality control lapses, including unsanitary conditions.”  The recall has generated citations from federal regulators and criticism by congress because of the “phantom” nature of the recalls.  This is a far cry from the actions of McNeil during the Tylenol poisoning incident in 1982 which brought  the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary praise for its bold and definitive response.

Continue reading “Safer to Buy Your Prescription Drugs in Canada?”