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Money-back guarantees could be the next big thing in pharmaceutical marketing, according to a recent medical journal article.
Professor Claus Moldrup of the Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Copenhagen, wrote in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that a system of only paying for a drug if it works would be good news for manufacturers, patients and healthcare funders alike.
A money-back approach would tackle prescription problems such as wrong drug choice, genetic factors and interaction with other treatments, by forcing drug companies to ensure that the right drug gets to the right patient, Moldrup explained.
"A no-cure, no-pay strategy creates a win-win situation for the authorities as well as the drug industry, and thus patients, because in a competitive environment only the best drugs will win," he wrote in the BMJ article.
Some companies have already tried the idea.
Last year, Novartis offered U.S. patients their money back if they did not see a reduction in high blood pressure after using its hypertension drugs Diovan and Lotrel.
A Novartis spokesman told Reuters the program had been successful in driving an increase in prescriptions for its medicines.
Other companies, which have tried the concept, include Eli Lilly, which last July offered to pay for a competing product if men were not satisfied with its erectile dysfunction (ED) drug Cialis.
Meanwhile, Bayer launched a refund for in Denmark for men not satisfied with its ED drug Levitra.
"Now that drug representatives' access to doctors is being limited, and doctors are increasingly reluctant to accept direct marketing initiatives, the pharmaceutical industry will have to start considering alternative business models," Moldrup said in a Reuters report.