How Healthy is Advertising Drugs to Consumers?

    “Only two industrialized countries, the United States and New Zealand, allow direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription medicines.”

That’s from an article published today in the Public Library of Science Medicine online journal, claiming that experiencing drug advertising could be hazardous to your health– and your wallet:

    “DTCA is limited to drugs that are profitable to advertise: mostly expensive, new drugs for long-term use for common indications. Such advertising increases premature rapid uptake and overuse of new drugs before flaws, including safety problems, have been discovered and communicated to health professionals… Many new drugs are inferior to older treatments, and over two-thirds are no better but are often more expensive…”

Does this mean our new Placeberol prescription won’t cure urban decay like the commercials seemed to promise?

Read More: What Are the Public Health Effects of DCTA? [Public Library of Science Medicine] (Thanks to!)


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  1. Nick says:

    Yup. And in New Zealand, they’re not even required to list side-effects in the advert.

  2. Anabelle says:

    So… people actually walk into their doctors’ offices and ask for prescription meds by commercial name? I can’t even imagine doing that. And what physician would prescribe a particular med solely because of a patient’s advertisement-inspired request? Those docs got some splainin’ to do.

  3. etinterrapax says:

    People totally do that, and they’ll also sometimes doctor-shop until they find someone unscrupulous or impatient enough to prescribe what they want. I’ve spoken out against this for years, but the resounding consensus has seemed to be that my point of view deprives people of empowerment vis-a-vis their healthcare decisions, and that they deserve to have all of the information about new and possibly better treatments, and blah blah blah. I still don’t buy it; I think it’s a dangerous practice that encourages people to seek pharmaceutical solutions instead of making lifestyle changes and maintaining long-term relationships with actual medical professionals, as opposed to well-paid marketing professionals. Of course, I also recognize that a physician has absolutely no financial incentive to cure you, but I’ve got to hope they feel some sense of obligation beyond their bottomless student loan debts.

  4. Transuranic says:

    Two words: PURPLE PILL

  5. aixwiz says:

    Personally, this is the only pill I take on a regular basis:

    Makes life a whole lot easier!

  6. Lars says:

    Just a minor editorial note. This was not published in the Public Library of Science (or PLoS), but rather one of the PLoS family of journals. This article appeared in PLoS Medicine. They also publish PLoS Biology, PLoS Pathogens, PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS Genetics, and PLoS Clinical Trials. It’s quite a worthwhile effort to expose scientific works to the greater public and world at large. They have forced other for profit journals to recognize the force of public access and the Creative Commons. If you’re more interested in the general workings of scientific publishing, I would be happy to comment.