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    Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    challenge posed by Kate Freeman 72 days 17 hours 38 minutes ago

    Category: World
    Challenge Forum

    Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars each year advertising prescription drugs on television, according to Nielsen data. Billions more are spent on digital ads. Anyone who watches TV or reads magazines can probably name at least a few prescription drugs. The U.S. and New Zealand are the only countries where direct-to-consumer ads of prescription drugs is legal. The ads are regulated by the FDA to ensure that they are not false or misleading (hence all the warnings about side effects). While it’s important for consumers to have a good understanding of their health and treatment options available, opponents say that drug ads “promote drugs before long-term safety profiles can be known, medicalize and stigmatize normal conditions and bodily functions like wrinkles and low testosterone, waste valuable medical appointment time, and have led to our society’s overuse of prescription drugs.” Drug ads also present ethical concerns, since doctors can receive more compensation for prescribing certain drugs and treatments over others. The American Medical Association is just one group calling for a ban on drug ads. Proponents of consumer ads marketing prescription drugs contend that arming consumers with information about drugs and treatments is a good thing, and ads encourage people to go to their doctors and seek advice. Plus, they say, revenue from selling the drugs helps to fund research and development of other medications. What do you think about direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads? Share your thoughts in the comments.

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    I don't watch much live television now a days, I stick with mostly Netflix and movies, so I don't watch many ads any more. However, I think prescription drug ads are annoying and unneeded. People need to go to the primary care physician and have a conversation with a medical professional about which medication would be best. If a doctor wants to get the bonus money for prescribing drugs then he or she will still get the bonus no matter what television ads are playing.

    Of course, I am not on any prescriptions currently, and I plan to never be on one unless it is the last resort. I am a fan of trying to alter behavior and diet before taking drugs for medical conditions. Drug companies make way too much money and their lobby is way too powerful for me to actively and happily support their regime with my hard earned dollars.

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hey Kate,


    Interesting question. As it is always, knowledge is power. Information when known can always help us decide which is better from options available. At the same time we get a chance to question and challenge doctors who are just prescribing a drug not because it's the best suited for our case but because he may get compensation if he prescribes that brand and will benefit.


    So when doctors see that people actually are aware of the various drugs in the market, they will be careful and not just sticking to their affiliations. But it should be taken into account that these ads must be rigorously checked and the side effects must be clearly portrayed in the ad as well.


    This will surely boost sales if a drug was never known previously but can bring out an advertisement, it could change its sales and help fund its research. At the same time, it may be that the big players will be making more ads and small companies may get bogged down by this. The good thing is once ads are approved, they can be in social media as well as much as in television and magazines. This shall be their leveling ground.


    Hbee

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hi Kate,

    Although there are SOME benefits to advertising pharmaceutical drugs to the consumer, I personally believe advertising drugs should not be allowed. There are several reasons I feel this way. First of all, with drug prices in the United States being significantly higher in comparison to many other nations; the billions of dollars spent annually by "big pharma" on advertising, is money that could come off the bottom line price to consumers.

    Besides the money issue, advertising drugs to consumers feeds into the culture that is perpetuating within the country on relying on drugs which, frequently, treat symptoms of diseases rather than the disease itself. There is more money in treating disease than curing it, as a "cured" patient is not going to be a repeat customer. Very often, the same companies that can afford to nationally broadcast commercials for their products to the public is going to be the SAME company that can afford to give kickbacks to doctors for prescribing their medications. I do understand the idea that giving customers information is power for the consumer, and i understand that there are FDA regulations and requirements to protect the consumer from misleading information, but the FDA is not known to be infallible.

    One perfect example is the recent pulling of antibacterial hand soaps as they have been shown to be no more effective than standard hand soaps. How many years have those been on the market before the FDA stepped in to pull those from the market? There are plenty of resources available to the consumer through the internet to find information on drugs, as well as to fact check and compare drug choices on demand from one's computer or smartphone.

    In short, in this current age of information, advertising does little for the consumer, and simply puts specific drug companies into the spotlight. One can simply look up drugs on their phone, as well as various options to arm themselves with any information on alternative drugs, as well as treatment options, to discuss with their doctor, rather than allowing drug companies to waste so much money on advertising that could be better spent on trying to cure diseases themselves.

    Can you tell I'm very opinionated?

    -Kay

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hi Kate,

    If I could just throw in my two cents, as someone who is currently working (interning) in the medical device industry - the FDA is pretty much pointless. Yes, they serve to help prevent outrageously dangerous medications/devices from making it to the market, but as far as preventing all false advertising/ harmful products from making it to consumers, that's a ludicrous pipedream.

    The amount of paperwork required to become approved by the FDA is astronomical, and they're reviewing hundreds of these applications every day. They are pretty stringent about their requirements for testing and approval, but it is always possible to fudge these numbers a bit. Theoretically, the FDA does independent testing of every drug that they approve - but this happens after the device is already approved to be sold. This follow-up testing can sometimes occur over a decade down the road, after the drug has already caused significant harm.

    The prescription drug industry is also so lucrative that its substantially more profitable to turn out a high number of new drugs that have undergone low-level testing (nothing long term, and nothing with amazing health benefits) than it is to produce a few, really effective, well-tested drugs. In my opinion, its not the advertising itself that causes harm, but the lack of required, effectively regulated, long-term testing for new medications.

    Thanks for your time,

    Jordan

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    I don't believe they should be. The adds may combine people that it will help them but their doctor is the expert and knows you. I think of it similar to using the internet to self diagnose. You really need to consult an expert and if that drug will help you they may recommend it if it's the best option for you. People need to have more trust in their doctors.

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hey Kate!

    This is a bit of a difficult question. I can see both sides of the issue. Often, companies that are promoting these drugs are out to make money. People who see the ads will be influenced to want and buy that prescription over something the doctor recommends. The drugs that are advertised often have adverse effects, which is always an extensive list at the end of each commercial.

    On the other hand, the technology and information we have is constantly growing and expanding. It is impossible for doctors to know everything. Google and other research forums can help, but there is still a lot of unknown and different treatments. Putting the information about a certain drug provides information or another option to someone. Drugs are not a "one size fits all" thing. They will react differently to each individual person. Perhaps an advertised drug will have more manageable symptoms, or none at all.

    Even though I feel the drug advertising companies are mainly out for money, I think that we should keep the ads. The drugs do have to go through extensive tests to become FDA approved. However, I do not think the public should be able to directly get to the prescriptions. We should keep the system the way it is now, where there are ads but the individual will still have to speak with their doctor try and get that prescription. In order for this to work as it should, doctors should not be able to take compensation for prescribing a certain drug or treatment.

    Best Wishes,
    Bronx4

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hi Kate,

    I've been working in the retail pharmacy setting for over two years now, so I do have an idea of how this occur on some level. In the pharmacy we do have pharmaceutical reps that make their rounds and give us manufacturer coupons that would substantially lower the price of a specific drug that they are promoting or even reduce the price to a zero co-pay. They recommend that for example If a patient is paying too much for Lantus, we know that there is a manufacturer coupon that will substantially lower the cost of a different medicine that does the same thing as lantus. So then we'll call the doctor and let them know to change the prescription to something else. it'll be more cost-efficient for the patient, so in a way the patient is benefiting because now they have a medicine that is more affordable but at what cost? what they don't know is that the people promoting it maybe receiving some kind of benefit for pushing those specific drugs. On the other hand, I can see the adverse effect of promoting certain drugs on television because what we see plays a big part in what we request for. That's the point of advertisement, it works even if on a conscious level we are not aware. It is ok to educate providers about new drugs and let them learn about it but not with compensation and a 'if you write a certain amount of this prescription, we'll give you a check' that is immoral because now patient care is no longer the primary concern but rather the monetary gain. Without the ads and messages we can work with the patient from an honest place and see what works for them. Medicine is not a one size fit all, so there should be no reason why a prescriber is writing scripts for one medication for all patients when there are alternatives. I'm not sure how it can be regulated but removing ads is a start. Put out the academic journals let people read about it and come up with their own ideas rather then showing a smiling actress walking across a field of flowers saying she was cured, yes great if it works but we should not be advertising it like it's a commercial for a pair of shows and jazz it up.

    Great topic, this is something I would love to do some more research on.

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    NO. They are becoming too costly for Americans and they are just too many side effects with it.

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hello,

    I agree with the positive sides to pharmaceutical commercials. But I also agree with skywordsee with the negative sides to it. I aspire to become a doctor one day and I strongly feel that physician's and anyone involved in the health care primary concern should be the patient. When money is involved, many people will be tempted to forget their conscience.

    Medications don't work the same for everyone. My father has type 2 diabetes and he has been taking a certain medication for years. Suddenly his doctors changed it to something else because they don't carry the older one anymore ( he has reduced health care and he picks up his medicine from the clinic). The new medicine made him nauseous the whole time he was taking it. I am not sure why the doctor changed it, it might be that he made profit from prescribing an alternative.

    Alot of times medications that claim to provide similar results will have a different route or mechanism for doing so which may or may not work with the patient's pre-existing conditions. I strongly disagree with finding ways to make monetary gains out of medicine and disagree with trying to persuade people through ads to take some medications. I like to trust my doctor and of course online reviews and reviews from people around me.

    The US is a first world country. We spend billions of dollars on wars, weapons, and aides to countries aboard. We shouldn't be that desperate to make extra money.

    Thank you!
    Peace

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hello Ms. Freeman,

    What do you think about direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads?

    I am in firmly in the camp of those who oppose direct-to-consumer drug ads. Simply put, the downsides far outweigh the upsides. From my perspective the downsides are as follows:
    -Potential to mislead consumers
    -Stigmatize normal conditions and bodily functions like wrinkles and low testosterone
    -Waste valuable medical appointment time (especially when medical professionals are already pressed for time)
    -Overuse of prescription drugs
    -Waste medical dollars on non necessary drugs (if insurance is used), this may lead to higher insurance costs for society as a whole

    Skywordsee brought up the marketing of prescription drugs to medical professionals and how when done without any form of compensation but merely to educate these professionals it can improve patient care and reduce costs for patients. I believe that while this form of marketing walks a thin line between patient interests and the doctors' financial interests that can easily be crossed, it is a much better option then direct-to-consumer advertisements because doctors are educated for over a decade on medicine and thus are better able to evaluate the needs vs. wants of patients and the medical pros and cons of the advertised prescription drugs.

    Perhaps rather then advertising direct-to-consumer, pharmaceutical companies and the federal government should work together and create a non partisan private-public partnership organization where drug and medical device companies provide data and information on their products to this 'organization' which cross checks to insure all the information provided is concise, correct, and not misleading to consumers. This information could then be released to the public via an online website which also provides other information on medical treatment in an unbiased manner. This would allow the help satisfy those who say drug advertisements are needed because, "Proponents of consumer ads marketing prescription drugs contend that arming consumers with information about drugs and treatments is a good thing, and ads encourage people to go to their doctors and seek advice"

    Just a thought. What do you think?

    Nate

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hello Kate,

    I don't think that prescription drugs should be advertised. They shouldn't be advertised because it could cause a patient to ask for a drug they don't need. It could also cause a doctor to prescribe a drug they usually would not prescribe just so they can get more money. The doctors should be worried about whats best for their patient, not how much money they're getting.

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    I am a little torn on this topic.

    On one hand, I do believe that there is too much prescription drug use in our country. I believe consumers seek out drugs for conditions that they could just live with. Just because you have an affliction, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get pharmaceutical treatment for it. Pharmaceutical advertising definitely exacerbates this problem.

    On the other hand, I don’t think talking with your doctor about available pharmaceuticals is a “waste of medical appointment time”. I believe that is a valuable way to use your time at a doctor appointment. Having information is rarely a bad thing, but I don’t think that consumers should get all of their information from an ad. And I don’t believe they do. In this digital age, consumers are savvier and are more likely to find information on their own instead of simply relying on the television to inform them.
    While I can definitely see both sides of the argument, I think that pharmaceutical ads should stay.

    Jenni

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hi Kate,

    I have a hard time with prescription drugs being shown on television and advertised to consumers because I don't think that it's benefiting the consumer in any way. Not only do the consumers have to talk to their doctors about it, but the commercials don't give enough information stating whether or not that it works for every person with that type of disease. I also feel like it allows people to worry that they need these drugs in order to survive every day, which is obviously not the case.

    There was one drug in particular, I can't remember the name of it right now, but it was for helping breathe. Most of the side effects were so bad that I'd rather deal with a breathing problem than die, have seizures, be paralyzed, etc. I don't think people realize that while these side effects may not happen to everyone, there is a large chance that it could and your breathing problem is now the least of your worries! I think we spend too much time advertising ways to fix ailments than actually going and fixing the ailments and treating patients with these bad diseases. While I might think I need the drug, I might have to wait for up to a month to even be seen by a doctor, which is absurd!

    In my present opinion, I don't think pharmaceutical ads should exist to the public because most of the time they are advertising information that might not pertain to you. I've also heard that some new updates to the FDA would allow drugs to be advertised without being properly tested on subjects first. This is a serious issue! So, until we can actually treat patients first before coming up with band-aid solutions, I think we need to try treating the patients first, then maybe you can advertise your half baked pharmaceutical idea.

    Have a great day!

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Kate, I believe that some drugs should not be shown, however, there are some drugs that may help people and it may be helpful if they know that the drug exists.

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hi Kate,

    It's good to be knowledgeable, but an issue I've had lately is information overload. There's just so much information, I feel overwhelmed as to where to start. When it comes to prescription drug ads, I am passive. I've made fun of the fact that they present a drug as being wonderful, then breeze through the scary side effects while happy scenes play out in the commercial. I'm not someone that wants to rely on prescription drugs. I even put off taking pain medication when I have a headache (unless it's really bad).

    I imagine a lot of people don't pay the ads much attention, either. Even though I don't really take medication, it would be good to be more informed. Doctors don't always get it right (I have found this out several times the hard way). Our ignorance as a public allows others to get away with a lot.

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hello Kate,

    I do believe that they should be advertised that way people know what's out there and they can in turn talk to their doctor's about them and get information on the Rx Drugs that they think might help them.

    Have a great day!

    Jenelu Rose

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hi Kate,

    I don't know a lot about the legality and intricacies of this issue, but I do agree that all the drug ads on television and the internet do stigmatize normal things like love handles and wrinkles and make people feel they need certain medications that may not be best for them. I think it's important for people to be educated about their bodies and different medications, but I also think this is not the right way to do it because the primary purpose of the ads is not to inform, but to persuade people that they need them. The time spent in these ads praising the medication/treatment for its supposed benefits is far greater than the time spent detailing the negative side effects, even though they are mentioned, and sometimes the negative side effects are mentioned so quickly that consumers can't fully hear or digest them just from the ad. This gives consumers a bias regarding the medicine before they've even consulted a doctor who knows more about the risks and benefits than they do. I think that's a really destructive thing to do, and instead we should have more opportunities for consumers to hear a balanced view of health issues and medicines so they can make unbiased decisions on their health.

    Rebecca

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hi Kate,

    I think that the practice of direct-to-consumer advertising is appropriate. It is always a person's choice whether they take a certain medicine or not and the commercials only tell consumers what the medicine may do both positively and negatively. The people also need a doctor to prescribe them the medicine before they are able to receive it which means that the blame is on the doctors not the medicine companies.

    The medicine company has the right to use their money how they like and if they want to use it to advertise, so be it. They are just providing information about a product they provide. While they obviously want to sell their product, they know all they are able to do is encourage a possible consumer to talk to their doctor. If anyone is to blame for the over medication of the US, it is our doctors, not our medicine companies.

    If people see something that they want to change about their body should they be allowed to? People are ridiculed often for saying that people shouldn't have sex changes which are a major operation, yet when someone wants to use a cream or a pill to make their skin more appealing it is wrong. If people have the right to do what they want to their own body then they have that right across the board.

    Re: Should Rx Drugs Be Advertised to Consumers?

    Hi Kate!

    Rx drugs should most certainly be advertised to the doctors who prescribe the drugs and should be informative as to be able to prescribe the correct and most effective medication to their patients. I think that it smart to advertise to consumers what is out there. Give them the choice to consume the material or not. Drug companies are like any other company; they are in the business of making money. Making money and spending money! The consumers are the ones in the end to be the ones who spend the money to purchase the drugs. The doctors prescribe the meds...I have also heard that sometimes doctors get paid to prescribe certain drugs over some. I feel that is wrong!

    All in all, I feel that it is up to consumer to determine if they want to consume this media. A free media and free choice is what this nation is built upon.

    Have a great day!

    Thomas