“Golden Pill” award remains unfilled for the fourth year running

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 02 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e841
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1London

The annual awards ceremony of the non-profit and fiercely independent French journal Prescrire in Paris at the end of January must have been a bit of a subdued and extremely short affair. No new drugs or new indications for established drugs reviewed in 2011 impressed the editorial team sufficiently to grab any of the top three categories.

The “Golden Pill” award for a major therapeutic advance remained unfilled for the fourth year running and no drugs made it to the honours list for drugs that provide a clear advantage over existing treatments. But most surprising was that for the first time in the 31 year history of the awards no drugs were even considered noteworthy—defined as making a modest improvement to patient care.

In fact the Prescrire ( “awards” were more noteworthy for their condemnations than their endorsements. Only one product—mexiletine capsules—was highlighted in the packaging awards. Many more were awarded yellow cards and red cards for their failings—for providing difficult to understand information, potentially fatal packaging, insufficient clarity about the dangers to unborn children, contradictory schedule instructions, paediatric medicines packaged in way that was unsuitable for children, and adult medicines without child proof safety caps.

And although eight companies were honoured in the information awards—Janssen-Cilag (outstanding) followed by Arrow Génériques, Chauvin, Kreussler Pharma, Mylan, Novex Pharma, Orphan Europe, Shire—10 were given red cards (Allergan, Bayer Schering, Biogen Idec, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eisai, Ipsen Pharma, Menarini, Panpharma, Servier).

Prescrire is financed exclusively by individual readers’ subscriptions and takes no advertising from drug companies.

The magazine concludes: “2011 was a dismal year for patients and healthcare professionals, given the dearth of new drugs providing real therapeutic advance.

“Inadequate marketing authorisation procedures and a failing system of incentives to stimulate therapeutic advance call for urgent action from health authorities.”


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e841


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