Worst Pills, Best Pills

An expert, independent second opinion on more than 1,800 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and supplements


April 8, 2010

     Worst Pills, Best Pills Newsletter Article, May 2010

The pharmaceutical industry engages in many clever tactics to sell Americans its overpriced "new" drugs.

One of the most outrageous is what we call "smoke and mirror marketing." Here’s how it works: Pharmaceutical companies market a "new" patent-protected brand-name drug that is chemically identical to an older generic drug that they replaced. The "new" drug does not work any better and it is no safer than the generic drug it replaces. This scheme is so successful, in fact, that a number of these drugs are among the most frequently prescribed in the U.S. and account for billions of dollars in sales.

In 2003, we informed our readers of this practice and provided a list of drugs that were nothing more than mirror images of older, less expensive drugs. In this article, we revisit the 2003 list and introduce a category of products that are actually old drugs that have been broken down, or metabolized, by the liver to what are technically new patent-protected products.

Read more about big pharma's tricks and see our list over-priced "new" drugs you should avoid.