ARE WE GUINEA PIGS?
To better monitor the effect of drugs, pharmaceutical companies in Europe invest around €100 million ($155 million) a year in so-called observational studies. These see doctors prescribing a particular drug and documenting its effects. But is the process really helping to make prescription drugs safer? Many experts doubt it. The medical benefits of these covert studies is low, while the fees paid to doctors are high. For Professor Karl Lauterbach from the University of Cologne, this imbalance is clear evidence that observational studies entice doctors into prescribing certain medicines more often than others. Against this background it’s also problematic that in some countries neither the state nor the insurance companies monitor the connections between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry.