Should prescription drug ads be banned? | The Tylt
"Ask your doctor!" Americans are bombarded with ads for prescription drugs, even though direct-to-consumer drug advertising is illegal in every developed nation except the U.S. and New Zealand. Critics of drug ads say they "mislead consumers into taking costly prescription drugs that they do not need." But others argue the ads help inform patients about health care, encouraging them to see their doctors and act as price-conscious consumers. Should drug ads be banned? 💊
Should prescription drug ads be banned?
Today, drug companies spend $4 billion a year on ads to consumers. Since the FDA relaxed restrictions on drug advertising in 1997, the pharmaceutical industry increased spending on direct-to-consumer ads dramatically, from $166 million in 1993 to $5.2 billion in 2015. And those ads are working:
"Something like a third of consumers who've seen a drug ad have talked to their doctor about it," says Julie Donohue, a professor of public health at the University of Pittsburgh who is considered a leading expert on this subject. "About two-thirds of those have asked for a prescription. And the majority of people who ask for a prescription have that request honored."
Prescription drug spending is the third biggest cost in our health care system. And spending grows annually every year—in a decade and a half, the use of prescription medication went up 71 percent. Why are these ads illegal nearly everywhere but here?
You know it's a pilled-up society when you see ads for a prescription drug that combats the constipation caused by prescription opioids.— Faisal Sikdar (@faisalsikdar) April 15, 2017
But some argue these ads "spread valuable educational information" and "serve as a public health service."
Proponents argue the ads inform patients about diseases and possible treatments, encourage people to seek medical advice, help remove the stigma associated with medical conditions, and provide needed sales revenue to fund costly research and development of new drugs.
But many say these drugs are not making us healthier.
And patient advocates say doctors should be the the leaders and decision-makers around prescribing medication, not patients who've seen for-profit companies' advertisements.
Pharmaceutical industry advocates argue that before direct-to-consumer drug advertising—conditions like depression, incontinence, and erectile dysfunction were taboo topics. Putting them on TV helped reduce the shame factor, empowering patients who might otherwise have gone untreated.