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Is Big Pharma using scare tactics to keep you from trying lower-cost generics?

eye drops: Big Pharma's secret

Pharmaceutical companies often point to the lives saved by their brand-name drugs. When it comes to less-expensive generic medications formulated to provide the same benefits, Big Pharma opts instead for doubt and fear to protect their profits.

The Washington Post recently reported that doctors, drug companies and the nation’s regulators are finding evidence that drugmakers are using tactics intended to scare consumers from switching to more affordable, generic medications even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ruled they are safe and effective.

These scare tactics are centered on creating fear of the potential for problems. Statements like, “Drug A may or may not produce the same effects” or “Drug B may carry additional risks” are false and misleading. So misleading that FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told the Washington Post that his agency may take action if it determines a company is deliberately misleading consumers.

“This is a field in which the marketers are having a field day,’’ Corey Cutler, an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, told the Post.

Biologic drugs, grown from living cells, include vaccines, blood and blood components, cells, allergens, and gene therapies. These medications have made significant advances in the treatment of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other serious diseases. But they are expensive – costing potentially tens of thousands of dollars a year for treatment.

Health policy experts say the availability and use of generic medications is critical to bringing health care costs down, with the Post reporting that savings to the U.S. health care system could be as high as $200 billion over 10 years.

Have you seen ads you think are false or misleading? Have you switched to a generic? How did it work? Share your story with Voices for Affordable Health.