PHARMA: Update on COX-2 piece

In my recent post about Cox-2 inhibitors, I suggested that pharma companies had been successful in getting them widely adopted, and that conversely PBMs and payers had done a bad job in counter-detailing. One doctor emailed me suggesting that I had overlooked the importance of defensive medicine–the desire of the doctor to avoid a law-suit. I challenged him to show me a lawsuit for prescribing ibuprofen and here it is, and the suit came from only one dose of ibuprofen.

You may feel that this overly stresses legal pressures on doctors’ prescribing. However, while the patient lost the lawsuit, and it was a pretty extreme case, there is clear evidence that some other medications have been marketed this way.  Genentech marketed TPA for heart attack victims by stressing that if a marginally less effective but much cheaper drug (Streptokinase) was used instead, legal ramifications would follow from patients’ families if the patient died. A large clinical trial had shown that there was a slightly better chance of patient survival if TPA was used.  TPA use became the norm very quickly. This might explain some of the COX-2 "over"-prescribing.  Of course, DTC advertising and poor formulary enforcement helped too

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