Every time I watch television, and this may only be a perception on my part, I seem to be bombarded during commercial breaks with pharmaceutical advertising. These are slick commercials and I’ve always found it interesting that say, in the last decade (maybe longer), they’ve made the decision to go directly to the consumer to sell their products.
It must work as I can’t believe any of these would continue to spend money on advertising campaigns that have no return for the investment. They’re for everything from A – Z as well. It’s good to see that there are new, possibly effective treatments being developed for all sort of chronic conditions, but is it really a good idea for the consumer to be making those decisions rather than their doctor?
Mostly, the commercial, after showing the benefits (and also going through possible side effects), will say something like, Ask your doctor about…, or Ask your doctor if [drug] is right for you. I wonder what kind of pressure this places on physicians to prescribe these medications.
I’m not saying that patients shouldn’t talk to their doctor, even question the treatment they’re receiving if they don’t believe it’ making their condition better. Too many don’t when they should because a doctor’s treatment is only as good as what they know about how it is working – from the patient. It’s possible there is something that would work better for a specific illness, for a particular patient, but does that require the one receiving the care to ask about specific drugs they’ve seen advertised on television? Notice, if you haven’t that there are competing drugs for the same conditions as well. Which one should the consumer ask about?
Of course there are all of the possible side effects with some, including death. Yes, I’ve seen some advertisements when going through some of the negative effects that may occur, include that the consumer could die. How many people pay particular attention to those side effects when viewing the advertisement? Of course they include all of these possibilities for legal reasons. But I wonder how many people are asking their doctor about some of these, whose list of side effects is sometimes fairly lengthy. Would I want to have a treatment that may make a condition better, yet have deleterious effects otherwise?
They have the right to advertise their FDA approved medications and I would never say they can’t, but should they be flooding the airwaves with all of these, especially the competing ones, so often? Does that help or possibly add to the confusion for the consumer?
As long as it’s not directly false, then we’ll continue to see these more and more. I just question whether we need all of it.