Monday, April 18, 2005

Little Benefit in Drug Advertising

Reader and healthcare professional MM writes:

[I]s there a logical argument for letting [prescription drug advertising] continue [The Yellow Line discussed this here] The general public certainly can’t just go out and buy the product being advertised. And while I’m all for a better informed health care consumer, these ads don’t offer us any real information about the drugs – sometimes they don’t even address the problem being treated! As best I can figure it, all they do is add waste to an already wasteful health care system. They drive unnecessary volume into physician offices and add substantial production costs, without providing beneficial information about the drug.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has studied the issue and notes in a report:

At an estimated annual cost of $2.5 billion, pharmaceutical advertising to consumers has indeed made drug companies and their brand products household names.

A new analysis provided by the managed care industry reports that from 1999 to 2000, prescriptions written for the top 50 most heavily advertised drugs rose 24.6 percent, compared to 4.3 percent for all other drugs combined. Drug manufacturing is a $122 billion industry, so a small increase in market share can reflect a multimillion-dollar boost for any particular company.

Current FDA regulations governing prescription drug advertising favor pharmaceutical profits over consumer benefit. For a product group as vital to the nation’s health as prescription drugs, our regulations should err in favor of the consumer, not the manufacturer. Change is needed.


Post a Comment

<< Home