A recent post discussed the publication of a manifesto by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) that was critical of the lower use of new drugs in the UK compared to other selected countries.
In this article I commented that there was "no information linking lower use of new drugs to increased morbidity and mortality". It seems that this comment got someone thinking; John Mack at Pharma Marketing obtained life expectancy data and plotted it against market share data form new drugs as quoted by the ABPI and there was a negative correlation. The higher the market share of new drugs the lower the life expectancy!
This correlation is not statistically significant (p=0.18 by my calculations) and is calculated on a small sample size (10 countries). There may also be many confounders to the data, for example greater baseline morbidity and mortality, differences in lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and alcohol consumption.
However, this very simplistic first look does raise an interesting hypothesis; do new drugs prolong lives?
Action: Clinicians should exercise caution when prescribing new drugs and may wish to consider using established treatments where these are proven to prolong life expectancy or reduce morbidity.
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