The Inverse Benefit Law: How Drug Marketing Undermines Patient Safety and Public Health

American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 101, No. 3, pp. 399-404, March 2011

6 Pages Posted: 10 May 2013  

Howard Brody

University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston

Donald W. Light

Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine ; Center for Migration and Development; Institute for Advanced Study

Date Written: March 1, 2011

Abstract

Recent highly-publicized withdrawals of drugs from the market due to safety concerns raise the question of whether these events are random failures or part of a recurring pattern. The Inverse Benefit Law, inspired by Tudor Hart’s Inverse Care Law, states that the ratio of benefits to harms among patients taking new drugs tends to vary inversely with how extensively the drugs are marketed. The Law is manifested through six basic marketing strategies: reducing thresholds for diagnosing disease; reliance on surrogate endpoints; exaggerated safety claims; exaggerated efficacy claims; creation of new “diseases”; and encouraging unapproved uses. The Inverse Benefit Law highlights the need for comparative effectiveness research and other reforms to make drugs safer and reduce costs.

Keywords: ethics, pharmaceuticals, adverse drug events

Suggested Citation

Brody, Howard and Light, Donald W., The Inverse Benefit Law: How Drug Marketing Undermines Patient Safety and Public Health (March 1, 2011). American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 101, No. 3, pp. 399-404, March 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2261391

Howard Brody

University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston ( email )

Galveston, TX 77555
United States

Donald W. Light (Contact Author)

Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine ( email )

Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
United States
6092160071 (Phone)

Center for Migration and Development ( email )

200 Wallace Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States
6092160071 (Phone)

Institute for Advanced Study ( email )

1 Einstein Drive
Princeton, NJ 08540
United States
(609) 734-8000 (Phone)

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