In the UK, due to budgets primarily, GPs will tend to prescribe the generic versions of drugs. Often new drugs are expensive and as such, unless the research data has been reviewed appropriately, say by NICE, the drug won’t be prescribed. For example, a GP would prescribe Ibuprofen as it’s cheap and effective, rather than Nurofen which is expensive and as good as the cheaper versions.
Most new drugs have a 10 year license and after that it must become generic. Recently Atorvastatin has come off patent and since it works better and has fewer side effects than Simvastatin and is now cheap, most practices are swapping onto it. Sometimes a drug company will try and extend a license or create a new formula to create a new license eg Esomeprazole is basically Omeprazole with a few molecules jigged.
In the USA, all drugs are sold via their trade name not generic eg Claritin as opposed to Loratadine. So customers pay higher. Also I’ve noticed many general magazines have drug advertising and there are regular drug adverts on the TV.
Yesterday we saw a programme in TV called The Drs, where some very photogenic doctors explained different conditions and showed graphic surgery. Bit like Embarassing Bodies, hosted by models.
Americans are constantly bombarded with adverts to make them thinner and look better. No wonder some of them are hypochondriacs. But, I wonder whether Americans are more aware of the pills they take and what they do, rather than in the UK where little information is given about a drug and most people have no idea what they are taking.
In the UK, we are aware that the NHS is having financial problems and although all drugs are subsidised by the prescription fee it costs the NHS a lot per year. Especially with the growing elderly population with complex needs. Whereas in the USA, care is paid for by medical insurance so doctors will prescribe new and expensive drugs knowing they will work and they will get paid. But if a person can’t afford their drugs, they are essentially screwed, whereas in the UK, people on tax credits or unemployment benefit will get free drugs.
So what is the better system? Any thoughts?