|Educational, or just drug pushing?
By Michael Dorausch, D.C.
Are pharmaceutical ads helping Americans get healthy, or are the drugs being sold draining our health and our wallets? According to research, the jury is still out.
If you live in the U.S., no doubt you have seen hundreds (possibly even thousands) of prescription drug commercials and/or advertisements during the past few years. 1997 is when the floodgates opened, that is when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) opened the way for increased pharmaceutical advertising directly to consumers.
According to research from Harvard, spending on direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads more than tripled in four years, to nearly $2.5 billion. According to researcher findings, the majority of advertising dollars have been spent on television ads.
Harvard researchers also report there is widespread concern that part of the increased costs in U.S. healthcare are due to the advertising of drugs, that do not necessarily provide better health.
Interestingly, only a small group of drugs are marketed directly to the public. Those drugs include names such as Viagra, Claritin, and Vioxx. Of that small group, money spent makes up 60% of all DTC dollars spent by the pharmaceutical industry.
The question researchers (and some public health officials) are asking is whether drug advertising leads to improvements in health, or unnecessary spending and decreased health. While the pharmaceutical industry claims that DTC advertising is educational, others believe it is putting people at risk.
According to an ABC News article, "a substantial proportion of people mistakenly believe that the FDA reviews all ads before they are released and allows only the safest and most effective drugs" to be promoted directly to the public. That is just not the case.
Some feel that the education of patients or physicians is too important to be left to the pharmaceutical industry, whose primary goal is to promote and sell more drugs. It is important not to forget that advertising is just that, ADVERTISING. Do not confuse it with health care advice intended to better inform you as to your options.
ABC News: Spending on Direct-To-Consumer Drug Ads Triples
ABC News: Direct to Consumer Advertising Drug Companies Target Ordinary People, Not Doctors
ABC News: Drug ads aimed at patients on rise
Yahoo! News: Spending on Direct-To-Consumer Drug Ads Triples