Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ad ban probably saved Canadians $150 million in 2006 for cholesterol drug

From 660 News Calgary:
Canada's ban on direct-to-consumer drug advertising probably saved Canadians with high cholesterol and their drug plans $150 million in 2006 alone, suggests a new study comparing sales patterns of a controversial cholesterol lowering drug in the United States and Canada.

Canadian sales of the drug Ezetrol - the generic name is ezetimibe - were four times lower than those rung up south of the border, where the drugs' manufacturers spent US$200 million advertising the drug to consumers in 2007.

Sales of ezetimibe, which is sold solo in the U.S. as Zetia or combined with a statin drug as Vytorin, are expected to drop after Sunday's release of trial results showing the drug failed to slow atherosclerosis, the clogging of the arteries with fatty deposits.

"It basically shows that the approach in Canada to this whole drug was much more appropriate and evidence-based compared to the U.S. approach where basically it's been marketed very aggressively," said Dr. Jack Tu, one of the authors of the study comparing usage trends in the two countries.

"It's sort of a textbook example of the potential downsides if you have direct-to-consumer advertising where the manufacturer potentially can promote new and expensive drugs that don't have a huge amount of evidence behind them and get them to be first-line therapy as opposed to older, cheaper medications with a lot more evidence." ...more

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