Ten myths about the pharmaceutical industry: myth 3

3. Savings achieved by expensive drugs exceed the costs

Gøtzsche notes that pharmaco-economic analyses of drugs commissioned by a company never report negative results. This was very clear in the cost-effectiveness analysis of the influenza vaccination campaign: even though there was no evidence for the efficacy and effectiveness of the vaccination, many concluded nevertheless that it was cost-effective.2-4
Gebu 2006; 40: 133-140 discussed pharmaco-economic research, and concluded that this is a relatively young research field which is still developing. It also concluded that the acceptance of pharmaco-economics by health policy makers means that the pharmaceutical industry can use this as a new marketing instrument, as a result of the many assumptions that have to be made. This represents a clear threat to the further development of the discipline, and it is important to remain alert to this. The authorities should also be aware of this when they decide who will be made responsible for the development and implementation of pharmaco-economic research.
The above considerations on pharmaco-economic analyses are not new. Gebu 1999; 33: 23-24 presented ten promotional tips for the pharmaceutical industry, and tip number 10 was: present a cost-effectiveness analysis showing that the new drug, although more expensive, ‘still comes out cheaper’ than the competitors’ corresponding products.