Nexium causes heartburn for AstraZeneca

The Boston Globe reports that the Defense Department will stop buying AstraZeneca’s Nexium, saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars without compromising anyone’s health. AstraZeneca deserves the criticism it gets for marketing Nexium as a novel drug, when in fact it’s almost identical to Prilosec, which was a cash cow for AstraZeneca before it lost patent protection. Even the name Nexium is kind of pathetic, representing AstraZeneca R&D’s failed attempt to come up with the “next thing.”

Nexium had sales of almost $4B in 2004 due to clever marketing (think “The Purple Pill called Nexium“). It gives the pharmaceutical industry a bad name and is a great example of the financial dangers of “me-too” drugs. Some of the blame also has to fall on physicians who prescribe it and insurers that pay for it.

May 9, 2005

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