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Posts Tagged ‘Media’

The media and drug reform.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 @ 08:08 AM

I was a guest on the Roy Green Show on CKNW radio in Vancouver this past weekend.  I was invited as a follow up to  my speech in Whistler. The guest host was Mike Smythe –  well known provincial columnist and  talk radio celeb. Mr. Smythe  is well known  in BC media for doing his homework and outlining what his readers listeners need to know.

He introduced the show with a lengthy description of the state of drug reform in Canada and a pithy rationale for it – including the incidences of chronic diseases as a consequence of an aging population.

It was a lovely discussion.  In one segment Mr. Smythe pointed out that perhaps brand prescription drug prices were largely responsible for the high costs of plans in the country.  I’m savvy enough in media to know that the correct answer to that line of questioning was to stick to the message –  it’s  about the high cost of generic drugs that’s siphoning money to chain pharmacy and affording that sector huge profitability.

But it got me to thinking –  where is the brand industry on the cost of pricing?  Has anyone seen the information coming out of the association representing the brand industry?  If  you haven’t  –  there are the usual highlights about how Canada is ranked well below other countries on it’s approvals process for new mediations and how the brand industry employs thousands of highly paid people in positions that make a difference to prescribers and patients.

Well that’s simply not good enough and is the root cause of much of the ignorance o public about the value and, frankly, necessity of a strong brand drug sector.  The costs for new therapies –  many that patients demand and neeed – are borne by brand pharmaceutical companies.  In many cases the amounts are in the billions. These are not gambles –  they are well thought our and researched medicinal therapies to manage some of the more insidious diseases affecting people world wide  –  like diabetes, cancers, neurological disorders, mental health diseases, transmittable diseases like AIDS, TB and others.  Why are brand manufacturers, therefore, labelled as villains?  I submit it’s because they would put sales of their approved products above that what they do best – discover!

In an era of new options for the future and the genericization of chronic medications, the brand  name pharmaceutical companies need to be as innovative as humanly possible to describe the value of their industry.  I. for one, will continue to admonish the sector to do just that!  Mr.  Smythe, I reckon will be a little closer behind.

- Marc Kealey