PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: Direct-to-Consumer Ads Spur Sales
The FDA's relaxing of regulations on direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs has contributed to a tremendous rise in sales for antidepressants and tranquilizers, the Financial Times reports. With ads that ask consumers "Are You Feeling Blue?" drug companies have boosted sales of antidepressants by 11%, to $5 billion, and lifted sales of tranquilizers and sedatives by 28%, to $2.5 billion. In addition, antidepressant "market leaders" such as Prozac and Zoloft have been approved for new applications such as bulimia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks, further boosting their sales. Overall U.S. pharmacy sales rose 11% to $68.7 billion, "account[ing] for nearly 40% of pharmacy sales in the world's 13 leading drug markets in the year to March." The Times reports that diabetes drugs also saw an increase in sales of 35% with the introduction of tablet-based Rezulin, while anti-obesity drug sales saw the biggest fall after the recall of Redox. The U.S. accounts for nearly 40% of the total pharmaceutical market, while Canadian, Mexican and Spanish markets have exhibited the strongest growth (Luesby, 6/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.