There is some debate about the value received for the money spent on prescription drugs. Some argue that most drug spending is on "me-too" drugs--drugs that provide only marginal health gains. Others suggest that the opposite is true--new drugs offer good value for money and are well worth the cost. To provide evidence on this issue, we evaluated the impact of drug innovation on the longevity of Canadians.
We analyzed patient-level claims data from Quebec's provincial health plan. We selected elderly patients with continuous health coverage dispensed at least one drug prescription in each year of the study period, 1997 to 2006. Drug vintage was defined as the active ingredient's earliest marketed date. We estimated the impact of drug vintage on patient survival using a time-varying Cox proportional hazards model that controlled for year indicator variables, patient age, sex, region of residence, low income status, medical services use, concomitant drug use, and comorbidities.
Of the 102,743 subjects in the study population, 14,154 (14%) died during the study period. Mean patient age was 68 years; 59% were women. Our survival models indicated that the use of newer medications was associated with a statistically significant mortality risk reduction (hazard ratio: 0.522; 95% confidence interval: 0.476 to 0.572, P
The objective of this study was to survey how introduction of new drugs and promotional activities influence drug sales in Sweden. All drugs on the Swedish market were categorized as curative, symptom-alleviating, substitutive, or preventive. The number of new drugs introduced, drug sales in volume and value, and the number of drug advertisements appearing in the major Swedish medical journal during 1986-2002 were determined for each of the 4 drug categories. Between 1986 and 1998, the relative shares of the 4 drug categories were relatively constant. From 1998 to 2002, the share of new preventive drugs increased from 24% to 30%, their share of advertisements increased from 20% to 35%, and their sales value increased from 25% to 30%. During the same period, the shares of other drugs decreased correspondingly. Pharmaceutical companies have shifted their attention to the introduction, advertising, and sales of preventive drugs in an attempt to exploit preventive medicine. This might lead to waste of resources when expensive preventive drugs are used by numerous patients over many years, as the benefit of preventive drugs for the individual patient cannot be judged easily.