Why Big Pharma wants your e-mail address

When I returned home from hospital following my heart attack, I brought with me a small old-growth forest’s worth of heart health reading material that the Coronary Care Unit staff had given me upon discharge. Included in this pile was a free subscription offer for an e-newsletter called My Plavix Partner from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis.

These are the drug companies that manufacture Plavix (clopidogrel) – an anti-platelet drug commonly prescribed to inhibit blood clots in those of us with coronary artery disease. So I dutifully signed up to subscribe to My Plavix Partner.

Every month, I’d get an e-newsletter with photos and stories from my Plavix partner, ostensibly written by a chubby middle-aged American man who told me that he too, just like me, had survived a heart attack. In every issue, he and his Plavix-taking friends would now become my friends too by sharing their helpful info about heart health with me.

This was my first introduction to what’s called permission-based e-mail marketing, in which companies get permission (via the subscription application I’d completed, for example) to get in touch directly with their customers.   Continue reading

Top 10 biggest-selling prescription drugs

The editors of Consumer Reports Health took a very close look at the recently released list of the Top 10 biggest-selling prescription drugs last year. No surprise that most of the drugs to make this list (based on total dollars spent) are expensive and heavily advertised brand name drugs prescribed for common ailments such as heartburn and high cholesterol.

But oddly enough, many would not be the first picks as recommended by the independent medical experts at Consumer Reports Health.  Here’s the list, along with some of their Best Buy Drugs list alternatives:  Continue reading

“Pay for Delay”- how off-patent brand name drugs fight off generics

Drug companies are acutely aware of what’s called the ‘patent cliff’, when their expensive brand name medications lose their patent protection, thus opening up the market for cheaper, identical generic competition. This is good news for consumers, but very bad news for Big Pharma. Lipitor*, for example, Pfizer’s blockbuster cholesterol medication, is set to fall off the patent cliff in 2011.

But even last year’s sales of the biggest selling drug on the planet already showed declines due to growing competition from other cholesterol drug manufacturers.  See also: Is Big Pharma Onboard the Titanic? Continue reading