Newly developed drugs typically get most media attention – for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions. But new research finds new medications are often more expensive and may not be as effective as cheaper drugs already on the market.
German researchers, reporting in the journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, said an analysis of 39 new drugs that came onto the market in 2009 and 2010 found “cases in which a newly approved drug is more effective than the cheaper alternatives already available are the exceptions rather than the rule.”
What’s more, the study determined it was not unusual for approval for the drug to be granted despite “insufficient data available” on a medication’s effectiveness.
The study also found in about half the case, a drug was approved on the basis of a clinical trial that compared the new medication with a placebo, not an effective drug already on the market.
“Pivotal studies only rarely clearly demonstrate an added therapeutic value of a new [drug] compared to existing alternatives,” researchers wrote.
The study did not identify the drugs studied by name.