Pharma and Device Blog Watch

January 2, 2008

Has the Avandia Controversy Scared Diabetics? (Pharmalot)
An analyst with Merrill Lynch believes the controversy over cardiovascular risks posed by GlaxoSmithKline’s Avandia may have caused diabetics and their doctors to avoid treatment altogether, Ed Silverman writes.

“We believe that scrutiny of Avandia may have harmed the U.S. diabetic population by scaring some patients off therapy,” analyst David Risinger said. “Avandia script declines have only been partially offset by increases in other oral diabetes medications.”

Rather than switch to other oral medications, patients seem to have been scared off drug therapy completely, Risinger said. Year-over-year growth for diabetes pill prescriptions went from 2 percent to 4 percent to a decline of the same magnitude, according to the blog.

“Although it is ‘in vogue’ for certain thought leaders and politicians to criticize drug safety, we believe these data highlight why it is critical for FDA to remind the public that all drugs carry benefits and risks, and risks should not be overemphasized to the detriment of patients,” Risinger said.
Getting Ready for the Axe (World of DTC Marketing)
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing budgets will be reduced in 2008 as the business model for pharma changes to do more with less, Richard Meyer writes. Agencies working with DTC teams will have to justify every dollar to implement programs.

If the FDA begins to request additional data on drugs that are being reviewed for approval, companies will have to spend more development time in clinical trials and more money to get the product to market, according to the blog. The extra funds will have to come from somewhere, and senior managers love to cut marketing, Meyer writes.

“So in addition to downsizing of talent in pharma, there will also be smaller dollars to do what marketers need to do to show results. Agencies, which may be used to racking up big charges, are also going to feel the heat,” he says.