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Drug developments in 2008: a serious lack of quality

2008 was a poor year for drug developments. The results are worrying. Prescrire's annual review of new drugs and new indications turns up few positive assessments and a record number of "not acceptable" ratings.
Full texts in English available free online.

Summary : Drug developments in 2008
Prescrire’s 2008 drug review is critical of the lack of genuine improvements for patients and of the excessive number of drugs to be avoided. Of the 120 new drugs or new indications analysed in 2008 by Prescrire, 6 were singled out as "offers an advantage", 25 "possibly useful", 57 "nothing new", 9 "judgement reserved", and 23 "not acceptable" -- the highest number since Prescrire was founded in 1981.

The large volume of "judgement reserved” and "not acceptable” ratings cast doubt on the level of evaluation and safety guarantees supposedly provided by the marketing authorisations granted by the drug agencies. Prescrire is appalled that marketing authorisations are granted so readily, that so few are withdrawn, or in many cases are withdrawn too late.

Drug prices in 2008 bore no relation to real improvements for patients, with costs continuously rising and mediocre drugs being reimbursed at the highest possible rate.

Drug advertising to healthcare professionals and patients has continued to do damage in a climate where "self-medication" and the medicalisation of existence are being promoted.

Governments however do have the means to act to ensure that resources are distributed so as to put patients’ interests first and that prices reflect actual manufacturing costs and genuine improvements for patients, factoring in the cost of poor quality. And yet, in 2008 deregulation pursued its course. Healthcare professionals and patients must keep up the pressure on the decision-makers to make quality care their main priority.

©Prescrire March 2009

Source: "L'année 2008 du médicament", Rev Prescrire 2009; 29 (304): 138-144.

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