New Consumer Reports Web Site Compares Safety, Cost, Effectiveness of Prescription Drugs
Consumer Reports on Thursday launched its Best Buy Drugs Web site, which compares the cost, safety and effectiveness of three classes of prescription drugs: proton pump inhibitors to treat heartburn and acid reflux disease; statins to treat high cholesterol; and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief, AP/Long Island Newsday reports (Sherman, AP/Long Island Newsday, 12/9). The magazine, published by the not-for-profit Consumers Union, also plans to study about 20 other classes of medication, and results will be posted online.
The report uses data from a multistate Drug Effectiveness Review Project at the Oregon Health & Science University, which is collecting data for states' Medicaid programs' preferred drug lists (Rowland, Boston Globe, 12/10).
A drug that is awarded "best buy" status must meet safety standards of other medications in its class and have a significantly lower price than others in its class (Appleby, USA Today, 12/10). For example, patients who need to lower their cholesterol levels by 40% or less could save $1,300 per year by taking a generic statin. But for those who need to lower cholesterol more, Pfizer's Lipitor is a "best buy," according to Consumer Reports. Each report also details the safety of the medication and possible side effects (Boston Globe, 12/10).
Joel Gurin, executive vice president of Consumers Union, said, "We're doing this because the cost of drugs has become a national crisis in this country" (USA Today, 12/10). He added, "It pulls together safety, effectiveness and cost in a way that I don't think has been done for consumers before. Access to prescription drugs and the price of prescription drugs has become a huge consumer issue" (Boston Globe, 12/10).
According to Mark Merritt, president of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, said, "The days of the drug industry dictating which drugs work, who should take them and what they should cost are over" (USA Today, 12/10).
According to AP/Newsday, pharmaceutical companies "reacted warily to the new service, cautioning that medicines are not the same as other consumer products." Pfizer spokesperson Jack Cox said, "It's troubling that Consumer Reports recommends what it believes is the most effective drug in a class," adding, "Medicines, like the patients they treat, are not one size fits all" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 12/9).