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Same as Nexium, believe me!
on March 23, 2014
Omeprazole is the generic version of Prilosec, made by AstraZeneca. The molecule is almost identical to that of Nexium, a newer drug marketed by the company. Nexium works no better than Prilosec, or for that matter, generic omeprazol. (I was a science writer for drug companies for over 30 years and was familiar with the scrambling that occurs when a cash cow is about to die. In its heyday Prilosec brought in over $1 billion in profits to AstraZeneca.)
A number of reliable websites describe the drama that took place in the early 2000s. According to one article:
"Los Angeles October, 18, 2004 -- Consumers of the heartburn medication Nexium® today filed a lawsuit against the drug's distributor, AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN). The suit alleges that the pharmaceutical company sought to preserve their market share and profits as the patent on their blockbuster drug, Prilosec®, was set to expire, by initiating a massive and misleading advertising and promotional campaign to deceive consumers into purchasing Nexium, a nearly identical new drug."
When a company has a blockbuster drug going off patent, its lawyers, marketing staff and researchers get to work. First the legal department looks for ways to delay the introduction of the generic product, in this case omeprazole. This strategy worked for AstraZeneca for 2-3 years. Then, their pharmacologists attempt to alter the drug molecule just enough to justify a new patent. AstraZeneca came up with "esomeprazole," the generic name for their new drug Nexium.
When Prilosec molecule had been tweaked and transformed to Nexium, R&D ran clinical trials to prove that Nexium had greater efficacy. They conducted four double-blind studies comparing the two drugs. The results of two trials showed no difference in efficacy. The other two showed a slight difference. So AstraZeneca hid the two unfavorable studies in a drawer and exploited the other two. Their drug reps visited doctors all over the country to persuade them of Nexium's superiority. (Most doctors listen to reps. It's less time-consuming than doing their own research.)
The result was that thousands of doctors began to prescribe Nexium at a cost of about $5 per pill, instead of Prilosec, now only 60 cents per pill (40 cents for generic omeprazole).
If Nexium is prescribed for you, tell your doctor you prefer omeprazole. If necessary, print one of the many website reports describing the duplicity of AstraZeneca.