Healing the pharmaceutical industry

The March 19 edition of the Economist includes a special report and accompanying editorial about recent problems in the drug business. The authors note that risks and benefits are well assessed before a drug is approved, but they call for an increased emphasis on continued risk/benefit assessment post-approval.

On the risk side this would include collecting better information about side effects in real-world settings and possibly giving the FDA more leverage to influence how drugs are marketed.

On the benefits side, the Economist advocates a…

“…more systematic, rigorous and impartial assessment of the benefits of prescription medicines and a willingness to pay top dollar for those drugs which truly represent an advantage over existing treatments and less for those that do not.”

“In the long run, it is better for [the drug firms], as well as the public, to have pricing based on reliable evidence than on politicians currying political favor.”

Sounds reasonable to me.

March 19, 2005

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