Merck fights back after BC Health Ministry drops diabetes drug
- When the British Columbia (BC) Health Ministry in Canada decided to drop coverage of Januvia in lieu of other, cheaper options, Merck fielded a survey in which 85% of doctors said that drug substitution on economic grounds is bad for patients.
- After the BC health authorities made the decision, Merck complained that there had been no consultation with physicians or other opinion leaders, as is the norm in such coverage decisions.
- Although the results of the 4500-physician survey were compelling and clearly favored Merck's position, the BC Health Ministry responded by saying that the survey was biased and heavily driven by Merck.
This is all a result of the BC government's refusal to cover Januvia, which has catalyzed a larger debate about the role of the pharma industry in general.
In addition to Merck's findings about how physicians feel about switching drugs on economic grounds, the company also found that 25% to 30% of doctors were uneasy about such a forced switch and 69% felt that patients who were doing well on Januvia should not be forced to switch due to lack of coverage.