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New Drugs Trail Many Old Ones In Effectiveness Against Disease 230

Lasrick tips this report from Reuters: "Despite the more than $50 billion that U.S. pharmaceutical companies have spent every year since the mid-2000s to discover new medications, drugmakers have barely improved on old standbys developed decades ago. Research published on Monday showed that the effectiveness of new drugs, as measured by comparing the response of patients on those treatments to those taking a placebo, has plummeted since the 1970s. 'While experts agree that tougher trials and similar factors explain some of the decline in drugs' reported effectiveness, something real is going on here,' said Olfson. 'Physicians keep saying that many of the new things just aren't working as well,' and therefore prescribe antidepressant drugs called tricyclics (developed in the 1950s) instead of SSRIs (from the 1980s), or diuretics (invented in the 1920s) for high blood pressure instead of newer anti-hypertensives.'"
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New Drugs Trail Many Old Ones In Effectiveness Against Disease

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  • by blackraven14250 ( 902843 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @07:06AM (#43912895)
    Beyond the patent issues, there's also quite a few newer drugs that have reduced levels of side effects relative to the older ones. Tricyclic antidepressants vs. SSRIs is a particularly good example of this - SSRIs are less effective on many cases of depression, but they're one of the go-tos in cases of depression because their side effects are generally less severe than tricyclics. If you ignore the side effects entirely, sure, tricyclics are better - but keeping side effects to a minimum is always the preferred course of action.
  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @08:43AM (#43913451) Homepage Journal

    I remember reading somewhere that...

    Thalidomide has 2 "rotations", left-handed and right-handed forms. One handedness was "effective" and the other caused the birth defects. The big Thalidomide crisis was because of bad quality control, there was significant contamination by the wrong-handed version, and we really didn't understand this stuff at the time. Therefore the "good Thalidomide" was banned along with the bad. The bad Thalidomide should be simply be considered a harmful manufacturing by-product that needs to be removed from the final product.

  • by VAXcat ( 674775 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @09:26AM (#43913829)
    Not exactly true. Thalidomide does indeed have two mirror image isomers,. and there is some research to indicate that indeed only one of these isomers causes damage. BUT - thalidomide undergoes racemization in the human blood stream - that is, even if you start only with "good" thalidomide in your drug, it will be metabolized into a mix of good and bad in the bloodstream - so, even if you only ingest the "good twin", you wind up with the damage causing "bad twin" in your body anyway.
  • Re:True True (Score:5, Interesting)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Wednesday June 05, 2013 @10:01AM (#43914145)

    Often it seems safety is traded for effectiveness. The best cough suppresent ever is herion, that was its original purposes. Since that was dangerous we moved to codeine, which was not as good but safer. Then we moved to Dextromethorphan, which is safer but works no where near as well and many folks cannot tolerate. Hallucinating while not getting good cough suppression sucks.

    So now my options are to be accused of being a drug seeker by my doctor, take more powerful opiates I have left over from other procedures or going to canada and smuggling back Tylenol 3.

    Sometimes the old stuff really was better.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian