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Americans prefer 'safer' older drugs

Concerned by recently discovered dangers of relatively new arthritis and depression drugs, most Americans would prefer a drug that has been on the market at least a decade, according to a new survey.
/ Source: Reuters

Concerned by recently discovered dangers of relatively new arthritis and depression drugs, most Americans would prefer a drug that has been on the market at least a decade, according to a new survey.

“Seven out of 10 American consumers would prefer a drug that had been on the market for 10 years or more over newer drugs, even if the co-pays were equal,” according to the survey of 1,092 insured adults sponsored by pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions.

While many consumers consider older and newer drugs equally effective, Medco said 31 percent of respondents in the nationwide household survey said they believe newer drugs are less safe than older ones.

Women were more likely than men to question the safety of newer drugs and were more likely than men to believe that newer drugs are less effective than older ones, the survey found.

Medco said consumer unrest has been stirred by federal warnings that new classes of anti-depressants may increase the risk of suicidal tendencies among children taking them.

The Medco survey, released Thursday, said consumers have also become concerned by dangers that have surfaced in clinical trials of a popular class of arthritis pain drugs called Cox-2 inhibitors.

The family of drugs includes Merck & Co.’s Vioxx, which was withdrawn in September after extended use of it was found to double the risk of heart attack and stroke. It was launched in 1997, the same year Pfizer Inc. introduced Celebrex, which works by the same mechanism and has also now been linked to elevated risk of heart attack and stroke.

Pfizer last month agreed to suspend U.S. sales of Bextra, its newer Cox-2 arthritis drug, after it was also linked to heart attack and stroke. Moreover, U.S. regulators demanded that Celebrex carry the strongest possible safety warning on its package insert label.

Consumers are more concerned about safety than additional benefits that newer drugs might offer, Medco concluded, based on results of its survey.