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New drugs 'often no better' than old ones
Photo: DPA

New drugs 'often no better' than old ones

Published: 18 Feb 2012 16:29 GMT+01:00
Updated: 18 Feb 2012 16:29 GMT+01:00

New drugs available in Germany do not have to be better than those already on the market – but cost the statutory health system millions of euros more each year, doctors say.

There is no law in Germany that says a new drug must be better than those already available – and comparison testing is not even required.

Leading doctors examined 39 clinical studies of new drugs published between 2009 and 2010 and found the tests often demonstrated no advantage over older alternatives, the medical publication Deutsche Ärzteblatt revealed on Friday.

In 2009, statutory health insurers paid out €874 million more for drugs than the previous year and pharmaceutical companies’ turnover climbed dramatically.

Half of the drugs in the clinical trials examined were only tested against a placebo and “only in exceptional cases was a new medicine found to have a higher effectiveness than pre-existing ones,” the report said.

It also criticised that the data in the studies failed to show that the drugs were better tolerated by patients, who suffered fewer side-effects.

The Deutschen Ärzteblatt experts also suggested that the pharmaceutical industry’s heavy marketing campaigns led to doctors prescribing new drugs unnecessarily.

“Older drugs are also seen as inferior” as soon as new ones are released onto the market, the report said.

But at the beginning of 2011 a new law came into effect linking the price of pharmaceuticals paid by statutory insurers to additional benefit they offer over drugs already available.

DPA/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:41 February 18, 2012 by pepsionice
I hate to suggest this....but with the exception of some cancer drugs....there probably hasn't been much advancement on drugs in general....for over three decades. You've got a bunch of developers, who are desperate to stay at the top of the sales charts....so they have to produce something. The doctors play into this whole game as well.
21:31 February 19, 2012 by Englishted
@pepsionice

I hate to say this but you are wrong there have been major advances in the drugs for M.S. not enough for a cure yet but we live in hope.

I know this from personal experience ,so it may also be true in other fields.
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