Prescription Drug Ads: Are they Really Influential?

Jan Gambino Health Guide
  • I am pretty sure that my two children with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) have been on every type of medication for the treatment of GERD at one time or another. For that matter, the doctor has recommended several over the counter medications too. While I have noticed an increase in advertising for the prescription medications used to treat GERD, I don't think it has significantly changed the way a decision is made to use a particular medication for my children. Certainly, the Pediatric Gastroenterologist and I spend a great deal of time discussing the treatment options including medication at each appointment. I know that I have occasionally mentioned a brand of medication to the doctor as part of the discussion.

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    However, I am most influenced by:


    Doctor's Opinion: I want to know the doctor's opinion on the usefulness and effectiveness of the medication for the symptoms/condition.


    My Research: I always check the safety and effectiveness of a medication on a reputable website.


    Networking: I often network with other parents and find out their opinions on medications.


    In the end, I want the doctor to tell me his/her opinion on the best treatment plan, including prescription medication. If I have a concern about the safety or effectiveness of a particular medication, I may ask if an alternative medication could be used. However, I have never requested a particular brand or type of medication.


    Sometimes I think the insurance company has more influence on medication decisions than doctors or patients. My doctor has to prescribe a less powerful acid reducer before getting permission to prescribe a more powerful type of medication called a PPI or Proton Pump Inhibitor. A few times, the doctor has given me a prescription and the insurance company refused to pay for it because it is not on the approved list. Then I have to decide if I want to pay full list price for a medication or go back to the doctor for an alternate medication.


    While I don't mind viewing ads for prescription medications geared toward patients, I do worry about the cost of the marketing. I took an extended leave of absence from work to care for my daughter when her reflux was at its worse. At a time when our family had less income, our medical expenses were at their highest. It would have eased our financial burden to have medical care at a reasonable cost.

Published On: March 05, 2008