They just don't get it, do they?
The feds have a little problem they created -- a monster called donepezil, sold as Aricept, and given to Alzheimer's patients.
The problem: The drug doesn't work very well... and the feds even admit that much. It never should have been approved in the first place, because studies show no real improvement in global function, no decrease in the risk of institutionalization, and no long-term benefits.
So how do you top that? Give people more of it!
The feds approved a higher dose of Aricept on the basis of a company-funded study that found the bigger dose might improve cognition in some patients. On the other hand, it had no benefit over the smaller dose in regular functioning.
Let me tell you what's really going on here: This drug loses its patent protection in November, and the Japanese company that makes it expects to lose billions of dollars. Pfizer, which markets the drug in the U.S. and Europe, could also lose big money.
But the new formula will automatically get three years of patent protection, allowing the companies a chance to recover some of that money.
See? Once again this isn't about giving people a needed remedy at a fair price. It's about grabbing as much cash while it's there to be grabbed.
Facts are facts: This drug does very little for most Alzheimer's patients, and comes with some terrifying risks -- from physical illnesses such as nausea and vomiting to mental ones, like delusions and irritability.
Other drugs used for dementia are as bad or even worse. Studies have even found that antipsychotic drugs commonly given to dementia patients send many seniors right to the grave.
And if you think watching a loved one die is bad, try dealing with the guilt of knowing that your drug choices may have played a role.