Thursday, January 7, 2016

Prescription Drugs - Direct to Consumer Advertising

I can't help but wonder if it's really necessary or appropriate for pharmaceutical companies to advertise prescription drugs in television commercials. Do they want to create more hypochondriacs? And what about doctors, do they want patients who tell them what drug they want to try because they saw it on TV? These ads (allowed only in the United States and New Zealand) are the reason prescription drugs are unaffordable to so many people. Pharmaceutical companies spend $4.5 billion for television advertising.

There might be some good news on the horizon. As of November 2015 the American Medical Association voted for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising. Nothing has been decided yet (it could take years I suppose), but the cost of prescription drugs should be more affordable. We'll see!

Of course there are regulations mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (my least favorite government agency, for a lot of reasons) that these companies must adhere to. Hah! As usual the FDA is vague and pro big pharma.

Here is what the products ads MUST tell you:
At least one approved use for the drug
The generic name of the drug
Risks of using the drug – under some circumstances the ads can give only the most important risks.

Here is what the ads are NOT REQUIRED to tell you:

Cost of the drug
If there is a generic version
If there is a similar drug with fewer risks
If changes in your behavior could help your condition (such as diet and exercise)
How many people have the condition the drug treats
How the drug works
How quickly the drug works. However if they say it works 'quickly' they must define quickly

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