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AARP TARGETING PHYSICIANS WITH PRO-GENERIC ADS

Executive Summary

AARP TARGETING PHYSICIANS WITH PRO-GENERIC ADS that describe 10 myths and facts about generic drugs. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) ads appeared in three parts in The New England Journal of Medicine Oct. 16, Oct. 23, and Oct. 30 issues. Together, the three ads reprint in entirety an article written by FDA, which was entitled "Myths vs. Facts About Generic Drugs" and was published in the April, 1986 issue of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy newsletter. Each of the three ads contains a statement by AARP explaining why the association had the article reprinted: "We have become alarmed at the aggressive misinformation campaign being waged by some research-intensive pharmaceutical firms against generic drugs. Our members, and other older Americans, are the ultimate victims of these uncompetitive practices. We are presenting the following Myths vs. Facts . . . in an effort to set the record straight." The ads also contain a coupon for requesting reprints of the Myths vs. Facts article and/or copies of another FDA article, aimed towards patients, entitled "Generic Drugs: Cutting Costs Not Corners." AARP said the association has received "hundreds of requests" from physicians for reprints. FDA notes in the Myths article that "there have been many challenges from a wide variety of sources about the relative merits of generic drugs versus their brandname predecessors and about the FDA's ability to ensure that generic drugs are equivalent to the brandname drugs they are copying." This article, FDA states, "discusses and rebuts from FDA's perspective 10 charges or myths currently being raised by brandname firms, directly or through intervening sources under the guise of independent scientific dialogue, aimed at discouraging health professionals from prescribing or dispensing generic drugs." One "myth," for example, states that "bioequivalence testing is not an indicator of how the drug will perform in patients" since bioequivalence testing is done in healthy, young volunteers instead of the patient population who will be using the drug. The "fact," FDA states, is that "testing in healthy volunteers, which shows an equivalent blood level between the generic and the name brand product, is a strong indicator that the two tested dosage forms will behave the same under the same conditions." AARP said the three journal ads cost the association approximately $10,000. AARP Health Analyst Judi Brown noted that the association is currently attempting to publish the Myths article in Generics magazine (produced by the Generic Pharmaceutical Industry Association).

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