The great majority of the 1,035 prescription drugs that came to market from 1989 to 2000 were modified versions of existing medicines if not identical to drugs already on the market, according to a study by the not-for-profit National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation, Washington. About one-third of the drugs were based on new formulas that treated disease in novel ways, but only 15% were new and deemed as significant improvements over existing medicines. The study also found that most of the increase in consumers’ retail spending on drugs from 1995 to 2000 was related to drugs that the Food and Drug Administration did not consider significant improvements over pre-existing medications. Nevertheless, new drugs of all types cost much more than older products. Modifying an older drug allows pharmaceutical companies to extend patent protections, delaying the entry of generic competitors, the study’s authors said.
Most new drugs represent no advance, study says
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