Prescription Drug Ads: Do They Do More Harm Than Good?

Laura Editor
  • USA Today reported that, "Prescription-drug ads prompt nearly one-third of Americans to ask their doctors about an advertised medicine, and 82% of those who ask say their physicians recommended a prescription."

    This comes from reporter Julie Appleby in a news article about a survey done by the newspaper, the Kaiser Family Foundation (a non-profit health organization) and the Harvard School of Public Health.


    To read the full article in USA Today click here.

    For the full results of the survey click the links below.


    The story also claims that, "Among people who requested a drug, 44% said physicians gave the one they asked about, while slightly more than half said doctors prescribed a different drug. Sometimes, doctors did both. When duplicate answers were removed, the poll found 82% of patients got some type of prescription."

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    Drug advertisements also directly affect medication costs. The article reports that doctors and health care analysts say physician visits spurred by drug ads prompt patients to seek the latest and often most expensive drugs available which helps drive up spending on health care and also raises questions about whether or not patients really need those specific medications.


    It wasn't until 1997 that the FDA allowed direct-to-consumer drug marketing. Since then, prescription-drug advertising have become a billion dollar business. In 2006, the pharmaceutical industry reportedly spent $4.8 billion on ads to people like you. The industry spent $7.2 billion more marketing products to doctors.


    This raises some questions for anyone currently taking a prescription drugs or who may be seeking treatment for their condition:

    • Do you, as a patient, feel that you should not be exposed to drug advertising because it will do you more harm than good?
    • Should you, as a patient be in control of the information you receive (or should that be under government control?)
    • Are patients knowledgeable enough to be trusted to understand drug ads?
    • Do you ask your doctor for drugs by name because you saw them on TV, in a magazine or on a Web site?
    • Is your doctor willing to prescribe whatever you ask for?
    What's your opinion on these issues? Add a comment and let us know!
Published On: March 04, 2008