Test drugs against competitors, not placebos: New York Times editorial

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The system for approving and promoting drugs is "badly out of whack" as the nation wastes "billions of dollars on heavily marketed drugs that have never proved themselves in head-to-head competition against cheaper competitors," The New York Times wrote in an editorial appearing in the newspaper today.
Calling attention to the study of between schizophrenia drugs in the news, The Times editorial called for clinical trials to compare drugs with older drugs rather than placebos to learn more about their efficacy.
"It would make sense to force manufacturers to test their drugs not just against placebos, but also against the drugs they are seeking to displace, The Times wrote. "And surely it would be cost effective for the government to sponsor large studies comparing a slew of expensive drugs with their cheaper alternatives."
A study appearing in The New England Journal of Medicine this week found that older an schizophrenia drug, perphenazine, was as effective and caused no worse side effects than newer drugs including AstraZeneca's Seroquel (quetiapine), Johnson & Johnson's Risperdal (risperidone) Pfizer's Geodon (ziprasidone). Only Eli Lilly's Zyprexa had slightly higher efficacy rates, but at the expense of serious side effects.
These branded drugs comprise 90 percent of the $10-billion antipsychotic market, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

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