The drugstore chain Smith’s is facing backlash over a new campaign that warns that its drugs will be “overpriced” if they’re not stocked with the right mix of ingredients.
The “Make Your Pharmacy Great Again” campaign was launched by the pharmaceutical company’s parent company Pfizer in an effort to highlight the “unparalleled value” of its drugstore brands.
But the company is now being criticised by a number of doctors and pharmacists who say the campaign is misleading and “misleading” consumers.
“The Smith’s pharmacy has an excellent selection of the most effective medications on the market today,” the company’s CEO, Brian Pritchard, wrote in a blog post on Friday.
“However, we recognize that in many cases it may be difficult to determine exactly what is required to achieve the same benefit in the patient’s circumstances.
So we have created a range of online and print resources to assist customers with their pharmacy shopping and the process of ordering.”
The campaign, which aims to help consumers “better understand the cost of prescription drugs, how to get the most out of them and make informed purchasing decisions, will help ensure we’re always providing you with the highest-quality, safest, most effective medicines available,” he added.
Critics also claim the campaign will be used by the drug company to push up prices.
A study released in April found that, compared with generic versions, Smith’s was “more expensive than generic equivalents in terms of the average price paid for drugs”, but the company was able to charge less than half the price of its generic counterparts.
The study found that a generic version of one of Smith’s products, fluoxetine, cost a whopping $4,100 a year for a 60-week course of treatment, compared to $4.35 for a comparable generic version.
Pfizer is also selling Smith’s generic versions of fluoxidase inhibitors like doxorubicin and cefuroxime, which are also more expensive than the company-standard versions, according to the company.
Smith’s said that it would be “incredibly disappointed” if the campaign made its drugstores less accessible to patients.
Pharmaceutical companies have struggled to attract more patients to their own drugstores, as they struggle to keep up with demand.
In February, a study published in the British Medical Journal found that more than 70 per cent of prescriptions filled by Smith’s drugstores were not for generic versions.
Patients are increasingly turning to cheaper generic versions and are using them to fill prescriptions for prescription drugs instead.
However, it is unclear how many of the more than 4 million prescriptions that are filled by its pharmacies every year will be for generic drugs.
On Monday, the company also admitted that its pharmacy stock is “underperforming”.
“Our pharmacy stock, which has been underperforming in the US, has experienced significant losses in recent months,” Pritchards blog post said.
This week, Smiths chief financial officer, Mark Fergusson, announced the company would cut 1,000 jobs and lay off 300 staff in the coming months.