No matter what ails you – real or imagined – there’s a drug for that. These days, stopping at the pharmacy on the way home from the doctor’s office has practically become a given. While you might think that medicine has simply evolved so much that we can now fix more problems than ever before, the truth is that the vast majority of new drugs aren’t backed by any evidence of added benefits.
In fact, a study carried out by the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care found that more than half of new drugs that make their way into that country’s healthcare system show no additional benefit whatsoever.
They reached this conclusion after assessing 216 different drugs that were approved by regulators and entered the German market from 2011 to 2017. Not only did 58 percent of them offer no benefit over standard patient care, but just a quarter of them showed a significant added medical benefit according to the evidence available. Meanwhile, 16 percent provided a minor added benefit.
Psychiatric drugs have a particularly poor record in this regard, with just 6 percent of them offering any added benefit. Those that did offer a significant benefit tended to only provide such benefits to certain subgroups rather than the overall population of patients. A similar trend was seen in diabetes drugs, where only 17 percent showed added benefits.