The recent withdrawal of Vioxx from the market because of safety concerns helps illustrate the problem of new medications.
Although often touted as being the 'latest and greatest' medicine, many show no benefit over older medicines that have a safe and proven track record.
When considering taking a newer medication, or having one prescribed for your child, instead of an older one, it should either be:
- more effective (and usually not just barely more effective or a little more effective)
- safer or have fewer side effects (although your child should probably be experiencing or at risk for the side effects the new medicine eliminates)
- more convenient, for example with once a day dosing, instead of having to take it three or four times a day
- less expensive (with effectiveness and safety being equal)
- a good alternative to other medications that may not be working for you or your child
- or really a new treatment for a disorder where no good treatments existed before
Of course most new medicines are actually more expensive than older medicines.
You shouldn't take a new medication simply because a drug company is heavily marketing it because the old version has become generic and is no longer a big money maker. It is no coincidence that many of these new medications come out just as an older one loses its patent.
When did Nexium, the 'new purple pill' get approved? Once Prilosec, the old purple pill lost its patent...
So don't take a medicine just because it is new.
On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons that you might want your Pediatrician to prescribe a new medication for your child as we mentioned above.
For example, if your child has ADHD and didn't do well with Ritalin or Adderall, then trying Strattera, even though it is new, would probably be a very good idea.
Or if your child has an ear infection and didn't respond to amoxicillin, a prescription for Omnicef would be more appropriate than an older medicine like erythromycin, which would be less likely to work and has to be given four times a day.