Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pharmacists hold key to cheaper drugs

There is so many inaccuracies in this article it's ridiculous. I'm going to break it down, but before I go any farther, I have one question. If pharmacists are to blame for high drug prices, why didn't the reporter actually talk to a pharmacist to get their responses to the physician's totally baseless claims?

But Dempsey said the doctors don't normally know drug costs.

"We don't actually get any information about drug prices," the Belleville pediatrician said.

"There's no mechanism to educate doctors about costs of drugs."

Well, physicians could ask the question of price to the local pharmacist and/or the drug rep of a product. In some provinces, pharmacy organizations publish easy to use charts with commonly used drug prices on them.

For example, he said, some drugs require the brand name to be taken only once a day, whereas the generic must be taken two or three times in the same period to achieve the same effect.

Generics are copies of brand name products. They're the same -- including frequency of dosing. Sure, a brand name company may come out with an extended release product to counteract the effect of the generic entering the market, but this article makes it sound like generics don't have the same duration of action, which is totally wrong.

Doctors will often write the name of a well-known drug in a prescription. Zantac, a drug for heartburn, is recognized by most people, Dempsey said.

But if a physician wrote the generic brand, Ranitidine, that person might call back to the doctor's office and ask if a mistake had been made, he said.

It is then up to the pharmacist to substitute the generic for Zantac if the doctor did not tick the no-substitution box, Dempsey said.

I'm supposed to believe that the patient would question the written Rx if it was written for ranitidine instead of Zantac. That's highly unlikely. And the MD makes it sound like pharmacists don't make the generic substitution when available. In Canada, it's almost always done.

Here's the complete article:

From the Belleville (Ont.) Intelligencer:
There are mechanisms in place that could help save Canadians money on prescription drugs, says a local physician.

Dr. Paul Dempsey, head of the 268-doctor Professional Staff Association at Quinte Health Care, said oft-times pharmacies can substitute a cheaper generic replacement, even if the name brand drug is specified in the prescription.

"On a prescription pad there's a box to check off for no substitutions," he said.

If that box is not ticked, pharmacies can fill the order with the cheaper generic drug, Dempsey said.

A recently-released study commissioned for Industry Canada found that Canadian physicians are generally oblivious to drug prices and often prescribe an expensive pharmaceutical when a cheap one would do the job. ...more

No comments: