Unlike new cell phones, new medicines are not always better than the existing ones

new medicines are not always better than the existing ones

Often people assume that what is new to come will surely be better. New phones, new cars, and seemingly new medicine should all improve upon the iterations that came before. But, in the case of medicine, that belief might not be so correct. Analysis of more than 200 drugs released in Germany ever since 2011 revealed that only 25 percent were considered beneficial to patients over pre-existing alternatives.

Does this new study highlight a need for regulation over the medicine’s effectiveness or does greater variety benefit consumers by providing them more choice over their treatment?

In Germany, the Institute for Quality & Efficiency in Health Care have been scrutinizing 216 drugs which tapped into the market between 2011 & 2017. This was done by the group by assessing the evidence gathered by the Federal Joint Committee & compared the effectiveness of the drug to standard care, which is a practice with relevant, proven & medical benefit to a patient. In certain cases, this might not be a treatment but rather ‘watchful waiting’ or ‘supportive care’.

Of the total drugs tested, only 25 percent which is equivalent to 52 were deemed to have “significant” or “major” “added benefit” over standard treatment. 16 percent i.e. 35 drugs were deemed to be ‘minor’ or “non-quantifiable” & for the majority of the drugs 125 i.e. 58% there was “no proof of added benefit”.

In two cases no evidence was found that the new drugs were worse than the already available drug. In a theoretical best case for patients, this meant that the new drugs could be competitively priced against existing medicines, providing the same quality of care for less. But, this is rarely the case as firms want to earn back a return on their investment quickly. Also, it is not known if all the drugs in the “no proof” group are as effective as standard care or not.