Five Expensive Drugs And Why You Don’t Need To Take Them

As Americans, we are spending over $200 billion a year on prescription drugs. Truth be told, you don’t really care do you? All you care about is how much money YOU are spending. If you are average, you are spending almost two hundred dollars a month out-of-pocket for your prescriptions.

Who or what is the cause for this expense? Many people see the great advertisements that big drug manufacturers use to promote their medication. The pharmaceutical companies have spent billions of dollars promoting the medications listed here.

The manufacturers are not the only ones to blame. The government allows drug companies to control the testing of their own drugs. The trials are often times designed to suit the manufacturers and not the best interest of the consumers.

HMOs and hospitals make deals with the drug companies to allow their patients access to the expensive, brand name medication. They do this because, when the patient is discharged, the doctor will write a prescription for this expensive pill when cheaper, older, and proven medications will work just as well.

Your doctor, yes YOUR doctor, lives in a world of freebies. Free dinners, free sports tickets, free golf outing, free vacations, among other things are seen as normal instead of the outrageous enticements that they are. Drug manufacturers hand out these “incentives” to your doctor, yes YOUR doctor, for prescribing their expensive medication for you.

Are you a shareholder in “big-pharma?” If so, you are inadvertently putting pressure on the drug manufacturers to turn out a big profit. If they are not making money for you on your stock purchase, you may choose to sell the stock. So these companies have to continue to churn out the big profits.

All these factors combined continue to increase your overall bill at the pharmacy. What can you do? You can start by knowing about your medication. Why are you taking it? Is there a less expensive alternate?

Are you taking any of the medications listed here? If so, you will learn why they are on this list of prescription drugs that you should not be taking.

The drug Prilosec was introduced in 1989 and soon became the most popular prescription drug in the world. Even though Prilosec is an excellent medication, advertising is what really put the medication over the top. Just before the patent on Prilosec expired, allowing generic companies to produce the medication for a fraction of the cost, Nexium was born.

What did the manufacturer do to create Nexium? They took the molecule and turned it over. That’s right, they turned it upside down. If you turned an apple over, it’s still an apple, right? In the prescription drug world, this is called a new drug.

In the drug manufacturer’s own testing, only one study showed Nexium working better than Prilosec, and that was just a 3% increase in ulcer healing time.

You can go to your pharmacy and, with insurance, pay your brand co-pay for Nexium. This will probably be $30 to $50 depending upon your individual plan. Without insurance, Nexium will cost you about $150 a month. On the other hand, generic Prilosec, known as omeprazole, is just a fraction of the price. You will be charged your generic co-pay, typically $5 or $10. Without insurance, thirty omeprazole capsules will set you back about $50, depending where you purchase your medication.

“It’s a scam.” Those are the exact words from a former Plavix salesman. The manufacturer spent millions of dollars studying Plavix and was given approval by the FDA mainly because it is an alternative to people who are allergic to aspirin and/or warfarin.

The CAPRIE study is cited here in Journal of the National Medical Association. 98(5):711-21, 2006 May. In the trial, 19,185 patients with atherosclerotic vascular disease received either Plavix or aspirin for two years. Plavix provided an additional 8.7% relative risk reduction in ischemic stroke, myocardial infraction, or vascular death compared with aspirin.

So yes, $130 a month Plavix works better than forty cents a month aspirin. It works 8.7% better. To put it another way, cheap aspirin is 91.3% as effective as the expensive Plavix

Another reason, one study found that patients who took Plavix had 12 times as many ulcers as those who took aspirin plus a heartburn pill. This, despite the fact that up to half of patients taking Plavix take it because their doctors think it is safer for the stomach than aspirin.

The most popular brand medication of 2005 is on this list. Lipitor is a popular medication because it works. The problem here is that there are much less expensive medications that will do the same thing for you. Lovastatin, pravastatin, and simvastatin are the generics in this class of medication.

Lipitor can easily be replaced with the three generics. All three are much cheaper and work the same way but simvastatin is the most popular choice. You won’t see any advertisements for lovastatin or simvastatin because they are generic and both have a proven track record of success.

You can further reduce the cost by cutting these tablets in half. These medications are the perfect candidates for splitting. Simply ask your doctor for twice the strength and cut them in half. A one time five dollar investment in a tablet cutter can save you twenty or thirty dollars a month.

The story of Clarinex is very similar to the story of Nexium. The manufacturer did a little tweaking of the molecule just before the patent expired. They removed an inactive part of the Claritin molecule and called it Clarinex. To make it easier to understand, they cut the fat off the steak, but it is still steak.

Now that Claritin is available over the counter, the price has dropped significantly. There are now a couple of companies making a generic version. Look for the active ingredient called loratadine.

Clarinex will not work any better for you than Claritin. There is no reason to spend almost $100 for a month’s supply of Clarinex. Spend less than $10 a month for generic over-the-counter loratadine.

Celebrex was developed several years ago because it causes much less stomach upset than the traditional anti-inflammatories. The problem with Celebrex is that it does not work any better than older, established medications. This is where the “it’s all in your head” comes into effect. When you pay $3 for this pretty capsule, your mind is going to tell you that it works. Yes, your mind is playing tricks on you, it’s called the placebo effect.

Here are a few cited studies from reputable medical journals proving this. Remember, in order to get FDA approval, a company just has to prove that their medication works better than a sugar pill.

– Comparative trials versus other anti-inflammatories failed to show that Celebrex was any more effective for pain relief, Prescrire International. 14(79):177-8, 2005 Oct.

– There was no significant difference between Celebrex and non-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, except that Celebrex 200mg was less effective than ibuprofen 400mg, Journal of Clinical Pharmacy & Therapeutics. 29(3):215-29, 2004 Jun

– Single dose oral Celebrex is an effective means of postoperative pain relief, similar in efficacy to aspirin 650mg, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (2):CD004233, 2003.

– Efficacy assessments showed the efficacy of 200mg per day of Celebrex to be continuous and maintained for at least the 12 weeks of the study and that it was equivalent to 400mg per day of Celebrex and 1000mg per day of naproxen, American Journal of Therapeutics. 10(1):12-20, 2003 Jan-Feb.

– Ibuprofen liquigels were a significantly more effective analgesic and provided relief significantly faster compared with Celebrex in the treatment of postsurgical pain, Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 42(8):912-9, 2002 Aug.

To sum up; Celebrex is no better than other, far less expensive anti-inflammatories, is as effective as two aspirin, is as effective as two over-the-counter naproxen taken twice a day, and is less effective than ibuprofen. You don’t need it.