Who Hijacked Our Country

Friday, November 20, 2015

Should Advertising for Prescription Drugs be Banned?

The American Medical Association is pushing for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices.  The AMA's reasoning is that the gazillions of dollars spent on drug ads are driving up health care costs.  An AMA news release stated:

Today's vote in support of an advertising ban reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices.  Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.  Physicians strive to provide the best possible care to their patients, but increases in drug prices can impact the ability of physicians to offer their patients the best drug treatments.

Can't argue with that.  But is this statement by the AMA actually based on their heartfelt concern for their patients' health?  Or is it just a turf war between two 800-pound gorillas?

I remember when lawyers, as well as pharmaceutical companies, weren't allowed to advertise.  (And tobacco companies WERE.)  For that matter, there was a time when TV commercials could not slam a competitor's product by name.  They could beat around the bush with compared to other products..., etc.  But until sometime in the late 1970s (if I'm not mistaken), you'd never hear Excedrin is better than Anacin or McDonald's sucks!  Go to Burger King instead!

What say you?  Should drug companies be prohibited from advertising prescription drugs and medical devices?  And if so, what other industries (if any) should be banned from advertising their products?

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Blogger Jerry Critter said...

If people would actually listen to the ads instead of looking at the pretty people, perhaps they would not be as effective. The ads spend the majority of their time listing all the possible side effects often including death.

November 21, 2015 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jerry: True, those ads depend on a lot of gullible TV watchers, of which there is no shortage. Theoretically, if the drug companies had to stop spending those billions of dollars on advertising, some of that saved money might actually go towards building a better and less expensive mousetrap. Riiight. Or they'll have a few extra billion dollars for the purchase and bribery of even more congressmen. (Much more likely.)

November 21, 2015 at 4:56 PM  
Blogger jim marquis said...

I'm probably less concerned about the ads than I am how pharmaceutical companies bribe (or at least persuade) doctors to prescribe their particular products. There's a cliché that they hire hot young women to be their sales people and I have a feeling that's probably not far from the truth.

November 22, 2015 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jim: You're right; that's an ongoing problem. Several decades ago, I heard that a lot of the education in medical school comes from "studies" and "articles" that are published by the pharmaceutical companies. I'm sure this problem has only gotten worse since then.

November 22, 2015 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Jerry Critter said...

I've seen drug reps going in and out of my doctor's office and Jim's statement about them being hot and young is absolutely correct.

November 22, 2015 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jerry: Makes perfect sense. Young and hot and on a corporate mission.

November 22, 2015 at 8:06 PM  
Anonymous anver said...

make a perfect lesson

November 23, 2015 at 3:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stanford Hospital for one has a policy of taking no gifts from the Pharmaceutical Companies - no samples, pens, pads, clocks, t-shirts, no nothing. Refreshing


November 23, 2015 at 11:40 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: I hope more hospitals and doctor's offices will start taking that approach.

November 24, 2015 at 10:49 AM  

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