english.prescrire.org > Annual Prescrire Awards > The Prescrire Awards for 2010 > The 2010 Prescrire Awards: chosen in all independence by Prescrire's Editorial staff > 2010 Prescrire Drug Awards > About the 2010 Prescrire Drug Awards

The Prescrire Awards for 2010

The 2010 Prescrire Awards: chosen in all independence by Prescrire's Editorial staff

The 2010 Prescrire Drug Awards
About the 2010 Prescrire Drug Awards

Products evaluated during the previous year in the New Products section of our French edition are eligible for the Prescrire Awards for new drugs and indications (in 2010: issues 315 to 326).

> Click here for an explanation of Prescrire's drug rating system.

> Click here for the rules governing the Awards (in French)

Each month, the Prescrire editorial staff presents systematic and comparative analyses of available data on all newly approved drugs in France, and on new therapeutic indications granted for existing drugs. The goal is to help the reader distinguish, among the plethora of lavishly promoted commercial products, those medications worth adding to their drug list, or worth using instead of existing drugs.

This evaluation follows rigorous procedures that include a thorough literature search, a large panel of reviewers (specific to each project) and a quality control system to verify that the text is consistent with the data in the references.

Total independence
This work is carried out by the editorial staff in total independence. Prescrire is financed exclusively by individual readers’ subscriptions: neither the French nor the English edition carries any paid advertising, nor do we receive grants or subsidies of any kind (see our annual financial report in each Prescrire International June issue).

At the end of each year, the Prescrire Drug Awards are based on the review articles published that year, and take into account any new data available since the initial articles were published.

Therapeutic advance is defined as better efficacy, fewer or less severe adverse effects (for similar efficacy), or safer or more convenient administration.

2010: only one major advance, and only for a few patients
As in 2008 and 2009, the Golden Pill Award was not attributed this year. However, three drugs are worthy of note:

  • Imatinib had already been on the market since 2002 for the treatment of inoperable or metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumours. In the small number of patients concerned, after several years of followup, it has emerged that imatinib prolongs overall survival by more than 4 years, albeit at a cost of frequent and sometimes serious adverse effects. Its place as an adjuvant to surgical excision remains uncertain.
  • In some patients with poor-prognosis myelodysplastic syndromes and related disorders, adding azacitidine to symptomatic treatments prolongs overall survival by several months relative to standard cytotoxic drugs. But the assessment must continue, and haematological and gastrointestinal adverse effects must be taken into account.
  • Japanese encephalitis vaccine is useful for selected adults travelling to Asia in certain conditions. It is strongly immunogenic for at least a year, but we do not know how effectively it prevents clinical infections, or their accompanying sequelae and mortality. A risk of rare but serious adverse effects cannot be ruled out. This vaccine should be used with caution.

30 years of Prescrire Awards
Since 1981, only 14 new drugs have provided patients and caregivers with decisive advantages over existing options, sometimes reassessed after lengthy follow-up, or in indications other than those initially licensed. About 60 new drugs represented clear progress. In recent years, however, about 20 commercial novelties are cluttering the market annually, and expose patients to unjustifiable risk. A good clean-out is needed.

©Prescrire March 2011

"The 2010 Prescrire Awards"  Prescrire Int 2011; 20  (114): 79-82. (Pdf, free)