Consumer Reports' Rx Reviews Stir Industry-wide Controversy

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Consumer Reports—a publicationknown for ranking the quality and valueof products like toasters, automobiletires, and cake mixes—is whipping upa storm of controversy within thepharmaceutical industry by addingprescription medicines to the range ofproducts that it reviews.

In its new rankings of drugs, thepublication was particularly critical ofthe value of brand name Rx heartburnmedications, concluding that over-thecounterPrilosec is just as effective asthe prescription versions, yet it costsonly one fifth as much.

CU's drug reviewers also reportedthat generic pain relievers, such asibuprofen and salsalate, work just aswell as far more costly brand name prescriptionanalgesics, and that, formany patients, generic lovastatin canreduce cholesterol just as effectively astop-selling branded products.

The publication's ratings drewpraise from FDA officials, who said thepublic should welcome additionalinformation about the cost and effectivenessof medicines.

Drug industry representatives at thePharmaceutical Research and ManufacturersAssociation, however, calledCU's drug reviews "troubling" becausethe effectiveness of prescription medicationsvaries from one individualpatient to another.

Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.