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Are TV Pharmaceutical Ads Damaging?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the decisions-best-left-to-the-professionals dept.

Biotech 383

trivialscene asks: "ABC News is carrying an article about a recently published study in the medical research journal Annals of Family Medicine which examined prime time television ads run by pharmaceutical companies. The researchers concluded that the generally ambiguous ads, which appeal almost entirely to emotion rather than fact, tend to confuse viewers. They also suggest that the ads may be creating problems at the doctor's office, as some people might become convinced they need a particular medication and insist on getting it, rather than leaving the decision to trained medical professionals. What do you think about the presence of drug advertisements on television?"

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not sure (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844432)

I dunno. I'm still trying to convince my doctor that Levitra helps you levitate.

The way I see it... (4, Insightful)

djbckr (673156) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844966)

I see these heartburn ads on TV and think to myself: These people on the screen are actors, in good health and probably don't get heartburn. The target audience gets heartburn because they eat too much and are overweight.

I know this because I am friends with a general practitioner (been an MD for about 15 years now) and he tells me that people in shape, like the actors in the commercials - in general - don't get heartburn.

I also know this because I was one of those people that got heartburn regularly. Once I started eating properly and getting back in shape, my heartburn disappeared.

Re:The way I see it... (5, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845036)

So how's the acting career coming along?

Re:The way I see it... (2, Interesting)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845114)

For me, it's not how much you eat, it's what you eat.

I was on daily heartburn medication when I went on a low-carb diet. Haven't used it since. Apparently there were two things at work - the kinds of carbs I was eating spurred acid production, and the fats I was eating more of are harder to digest, so the acid being produced is being used for what it was supposed to be used for: digestion.

Now, I did lose a lot of weight, but the acid reflux disappeared within days after starting.

Re:The way I see it... (3, Interesting)

tubapro12 (896596) | more than 7 years ago | (#17846262)

I know many people with sensitive stomachs and other digestive conditions who are not overweight and do not eat too much yet still frequent heartburn.

Re:The way I see it... (3, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17846272)

I'm generally in shape, and I eat moderately well. The problem has to do with what I eat well.

glass of red wine with dinner = heartburn
tomato sauce on pasta (or any tomato products) = heartburn
hamburger = heartburn
not eating at the correct times = sometimes heartburn (haven't figured this out)

If I eat enough milk fats with any of the above, I dont't get heartburn. Hence, I mix tomato sauce with a little Alfredo sauce, put cheese on the burger and have a glass of milk, and I don't have a problem.

Incidentally, this runs in the familiy. My father is on daily prescription medication and needs the valve at the top of his stomach replaced at some point. My older sister now takes daily over-the-counter medication and is still having problems. Both, like me, are generally in shape. My dad's suffered from it for most of his life, and I've been dealing with it since I was 20 or so.

Who cares? (4, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844486)

All that matters is that there are pills that give me erections for hours on end. Balanced against that, who cares about the dumb viewing public?

Re:Who cares? (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844970)

That's called priapism and I think you should definately care, since it's a serious medical contition requiring emergency treatment :)


Re:Who cares? (1)

krakelohm (830589) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845322)

Don't worry about it, I hear they have a pill for that.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17845456)

They always warn you that if the medication causes an erection lasting more than 4 hours, you should call for medical help. Heck, if I had an erection for more than 4 hours, I'd call the press !

If they're bringing cameras, make sure they bring the LOOOOONG lens !

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17845582)

"If they're bringing cameras, make sure they bring the LOOOOONG lens !"

Would they have to zoom in that far?

Re:Who cares? (5, Funny)

gwayne (306174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845856)

All that matters is that there are pills that give me erections for hours on end.

You need pills for that? Sheesh, what's this country coming to?

marketing vs R&D (5, Insightful)

lotsofgadgets (723829) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844496)

I think the big wake up call should be the fact that Big Pharma is spending more on marketing their drugs than on developing them in the first place.

Re:marketing vs R&D (2, Interesting)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845208)

That's actually not true at all. These companies spend years, maybe tens of years developing their products, then they have to go through more years of testing before they come to market.

Once they get on the market, they're only heavily advertised for a year or so.

The ads are also aimed less at the consumer and more at doctors; doctors are the ones that have to prescribe it, after all, so they have to learn about it before patients start asking about it. Otherwise the patients will think the doctor is uninformed.

The overall general effect on the more gullible consumers is that they can be happy, just like the people in the ads, if they take some pills! Soma for everybody!

Re:marketing vs R&D (4, Informative)

Znork (31774) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845628)

"That's actually not true at all."

Actually, it's entirely true. Take a look at the financials of your average pharmaceutical. They spend less than 20% of revenue on R&D, 40% is marketing and administration, and 40% cost of production and distribution. Some have profits that are twice what they spend on R&D.

That, of course, means we'd get five times the R&D for the same money we're paying today if we paid for it outright rather than granting monopolies. Or we'd get the same level of R&D at a fifth of the price.

Re:marketing vs R&D (3, Interesting)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845914)

I used to run IT at a local medical practice, and we had pharm reps in all the time. Surprisingly, they use the same "Look at the monkey! Look at the monkey!" tricks the Sheeple get on TV, but in person.

First, riddle me this: When's the last time you saw an ugly rep? Most of those salesfolk we saw were women, cuties, 20s-30s. They brought the doctor and staff free lunch from the nearest Olive Garden or the like, and just sat around and shot the bull for the first half of lunch. Alway complimentary and agreeable, it was int'restin' that they all seemed to share any particular view that Doc would mention. So, the doctor gets a pretty young lady that hangs on his every word, brings him lunch, and is quick to agree with him.

The poor slob never stands a chance.

The second half of lunch is dedicated to the pitch. I've heard that most doctors will fall for the pretty-face routine darn near every time; you'll always see a Rx count bump up after these visits...

Re:marketing vs R&D (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845526)

I think the big wake up call should be the fact that Big Pharma is spending more on marketing their drugs than on developing them in the first place.
Well, thankfully here in the UK they are banned from advertising perscription medication to the public; they have to do that to the doctors, afterall it's a doctors job to know what drug I need, I can then go and research it but at least it doesn't encourage hypocondria.

Over the counter medicines, however are advertised here with as much vigour as anywhere else, so all those cough and cold remidies that are basically just paracetamol each get their own advert.

Re:marketing vs R&D (5, Insightful)

chevelle496 (1058560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17846070)

IAAD, and I think you have a very valid point. Most of the drugs advertised on television here in the US are high dollar moneymakers for the pharma companies. In my opinion, this is the biggest problem - the vast majority of the time, much cheaper generic medications which are equivalent (or sometimes superior) in efficacy are available. The ads are just marketing and serve to drive up the already astronomical price of healthcare in the US. Personally, I usually ignore requests and spend a few minutes talking with my patients and explaining to them why "Expensiva" is not the best choice based on side effects, costs, or available randomized controlled trials. Yes, this does take a bit more time, and others might just give in and prescribe, but one of a physician's most important skills is communication.

I hate ambiguous drug ads. (1)

jdp816 (895616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844520)

Why, oh why, do drug makers not realize that if you don't TELL PEOPLE WHAT YOUR DRUG IS FOR that they may not know if they really should "Ask you doctor about X"? How many doctors have to explain what all the new drugs are for to people who can't figure it out from the ads? An extra 5 seconds of ad time used to clarify what the drugs does doesn't sound like a waste of air time to me.

Re:I hate ambiguous drug ads. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844590)

An extra 5 seconds of ad time used to clarify what the drugs does doesn't sound like a waste of air time to me.

Well, air time is pricey. Your extra 5 seconds have cost the drugs company $20000 every time the ad is shown.

Re:I hate ambiguous drug ads. (2, Interesting)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844652)

An extra 5 seconds of ad time used to clarify what the drugs does doesn't sound like a waste of air time to me.

If they say what the drug does, they also have to say what the side-effects are.

Re:I hate ambiguous drug ads. (3, Informative)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844724)

An extra 5 seconds of ad time used to clarify what the drugs does doesn't sound like a waste of air time to me.

From this page: []

"According to these FDA regulations, advertisers who name a prescription drug, and state its purpose and benefits, must also include full disclosure of its side effects, contraindications, and must follow specific labeling guidelines."

By stating the purpose of the drug, that "extra 5 seconds" suddenly turns into a full minute or two of small print being read to you. Not exactly what the advertisers want to be doing with their time/money.

Re:I hate ambiguous drug ads. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17844894)

Why do they read it to us regardless of telling us what it does?

Re:I hate ambiguous drug ads. (2, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845040)

"According to these FDA regulations, advertisers who name a prescription drug, and state its purpose and benefits, must also include full disclosure of its side effects, contraindications, and must follow specific labeling guidelines."

By stating the purpose of the drug, that "extra 5 seconds" suddenly turns into a full minute or two of small print being read to you. Not exactly what the advertisers want to be doing with their time/money.

Well the ad would be completely useless if they didn't name the drug, or give an at least vague indication of its purpose, and all the prescription medication ads I've seen do have that 20 second low-volume recitation of all the side effects, usually while showing a happy couple on a swingset or kayaking.

Which personally I love. The first such ad I recall was for Propecia, the hair growth pill, which contained the line "women who are pregnant or wish to become pregnent should not handle broken propecia tablets as serious birth defects may result". Whoa, that's nasty shit, I thought. I also like a lot of the anti-depression med ads, where they show some guy whose happy and enjoying life, while saying "may cause certain sexual side effects" -- meaning you become impotent, basically replacing your chemical-imbalance-induced depression with a real reason to be depressed.

Re:I hate ambiguous drug ads. (2, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845284)

The first such ad I recall was for Propecia, the hair growth pill, which contained the line "women who are pregnant or wish to become pregnent should not handle broken propecia tablets as serious birth defects may result".

My roommate at the time and I used to talk about wanting to see a "Propecia Baby".

Re:I hate ambiguous drug ads. (3, Informative)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844830)

Well for one, if a drug is pending FDA approval they legally are not ALLOWED to state what the drug does. Ditto if the drug has not completed post-approval clinical trials as well.

And the second reason may seem shitty from a consumers point of view, but from the industrie's point of view it makes sense: it causes you to go online and check out what it does. In the meantime, you get to see what else the company manufactures, and therefore you have more names that are associated with that company and the marketers hope that because you remember another name from their company, if the need to use the treatment that drug provides you are (again, they hope) more likely to use THEIR drug since it's a name you recognize. (Apologies for the run on sentence)

And yes I work in the pharmaceutical industry.

Re:I hate ambiguous drug ads. (1)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845728)

Yeah, my doctor gets sick of me asking him all of the questions that the drug ads instruct me to. I write them all down, and when it's time to visit the doctor

Hey Doc,

"Is Levitra right for me?"

"Could I benefit from a prescription of Nexium?"

"Which Robitussin should I take?"

If not outright damaging, they don't help (5, Insightful)

PDMongo (225918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844528)

Every time I see one of those ads I can't help but think that it isn't my job to try and convicen my doctor to prescribe some drug, it is the doctor's job to know what drugs are available and prescribe them to me.

If the drug companies want me to sell my doctor on their particlar product, I should get a commission every time they write me the prescription.

Ask your doctor about modding parent up. (4, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844672)

A friend of mine is a GP, and he is pretty sick and tired of his patients asking him about whatever drug was last advertised while they were watching Oprah and therefore extra suggestible. His standard response is something like "If you want the professional medical opinion of your television, visit it instead of me. You're not buying dishwashing liquid here."

Re:Ask your doctor about modding parent up. (2, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844930)

Your friend sounds like a good doctor. Many doctors I've seen will prescribe you anything you ask for if you can rattle off the symptoms the drug claims to treat and claim to be suffering from them. When the doctor sees the patient for maybe 5 minutes per visit, this sort of thing happens. You give them some symptoms, they maybe take a blood test to make sure you won't die from the drug, and then prescribe it. This is the reason these ads are working so well: patients are convinced they need it, and doctors are too overworked and spend too little time with the patient to make a good judgement call as to whether they do or not, so they just prescribe it.

Re:Ask your doctor about modding parent up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17845088)

"Hey Doc, I'll save you the trouble, I'm pretty sure that a big, big bottle of something with a high street value would be just the thing to cure what ails me. Prescription, please!"

They listen less. (1)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845464)

I'm not sure ignoring patients' comments necessarily makes a good doctor. I'm sure there are a lot of idiots saying dumb shit to their doctors. And I don't blame doctors for just gradually filtering out that stuff and ignoring what the patients have to say. But I don't know if it's good.

In the times I've dealt with doctors I've come to realize that the vast majority of them are not interested in listening to your self-diagnosis. And we probably have idiotic patients brainwashed by advertising to thank for that. Doctors just want to perform tests or give you some medicine to experiment with and see if it makes a difference. And that's great, it works well for colds and flus and simple ailments. But for more complex things, they can make mistakes, or have a bias for expensive surgical procedures. You can go in there with allergy symptoms and end up under the knife, just because your doctor has grown accustomed to working in his own insular little world. And I don't know if that's better.

Either way, I think you have to view your doctor as very skilled resource, but ultimately it's yourself who is responsible for your own well-being.

The doctors arn't the whole problem. (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845990)

The REAL reason this works for the drug companies is the patients don't have to pay for the drugs, or only pay a small portion of the cost. Their insurance company hides the real cost of the drug from the patient.

If patients are spending their own money on drugs they don't need, no biggie. But when they use their insurance to pay for drugs they don't need, everyone ends up paying more for insurance.

This doesn't need to be solved by the government. Insurance companies just need to reduce or eliminate their reimbursements for drugs that are advertised. Put an ad for your drug on television? Fine - but my insurance company won't cover it anymore.

Marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17844546)

Marketing to Doctors? They get crap like staplers, paper holders, pens, etc. Next time you're there, take a look at the clerical staff's desk.

Marketing to Consumers? I never understood this one.

Patient: ZOMG I NEED XYZCAL now!
Doctor: What for?
Patient: To live a happier life.
Doctor: Ok, well, here's the generic form. Placebo.
Patient: Oooh...
Doctor: That'll be $125.

YES (4, Informative)

zubernerd (518077) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844552)


My mom's an MA (medical assistant) and my wife is a medical student (M2), and both tell me that those ads are a problem.

I hate hearing about people demanding drugs after seeming them on TV, thinking they know better than a professional with 4+ years of training. I watched my wife study for her pharm course, and all the interactions, contraindications, etc is enough to make her head spin a little bit (and mine a lot). Also, most of the time an off-patent generic drug that's been around for years is more beneficial than those new drugs being advertised.

It's the like the old joke about the old lady who wants that new arthritis drug: Viagra.

What do I think? (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844572)

I think they tell me what drugs to avoid.

Seriously, if they want untrained lemming to make the decision on use, rather than trained professionals, then I suspect the product is not good quality. And the commercials, as stated, target the untrained and unknowing, not the doctors and professionals

Re:What do I think? (1)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845056)

I sort of agree with you, but at the same time disagree ...

Until Viagra was heavily advertized most men would never admit that they ever had problems obtaining an erection even to their doctor, after the advertizements I'm certain that way more men feel comfortable talking about impotence with their doctors and finding out what treatment is available.

The problems I have with drug advertizing is that, like all marketing, they often prey on the fact that people are generally not satisfied with their life; they end up overpromising and underdelivering quick fixes to people's precieved problems. If you're feeling depressed because you're going bald propecia will probably not make your life better.

Yes (5, Insightful)

ThePolkapunk (826529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844576)

Short answer: Yes. Long Answer: Your doctor is the one who should know about medicine. If he finds out about medication from advertisements on TV, it is time to choose a new doctor. If he finds out about medication from patients who saw advertisements on TV, it is time to choose a doctor. If he will prescribe medication to you based solely upon your request because you saw an advertisement on TV, it is time to choose a new doctor. His knowledge of medication should be completely restricted to facts, such as effects and clinical studies. Any time a doctor is being influenced by an advertisement, whether it be from television or the frequent free catered meals and trips with which pharmaceutical companies bribe doctors, your health is being put in jeapordy.

doctors aren't up on drugs, though (1)

ghostlibrary (450718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844982)

Bear in mind that many doctors prescribe from the free samples they have laying about. 'Hmm... got condition X? Try this', hands sample pack. This is especially prevalent for antidepressants-- admitably, the choice of which anti-d to take is pretty much a russian roulette until you find one that works for your particular neurochemistry.

Doctors are often overwhelmed by the huge number of potential drugs. Most tend to settle into the 1 or 2 they typically prescribe for a given condition, rather than knowing every drug for every condition.

So the real conflict is not advertising, it's whether advertising to patients is better than sending samples and literature to doctors. Neither is necessarily good for the patient.

A PharmD once told me that doctors believe PharmDs should not prescribe because they don't know the full patient case history, and PharmDs believe doctors should not prescribe because they don't know fully about the drugs.

While doctors hate patients who make recommendations on treatment, these days it makes sense for patients to research their own condition in depth. Unless you're seeing a specialist who keeps up to date on that field, self-research can be necessary because doctors don't have the time nor, all too often, the inclination.

That said, seeing an ad on TV is so far from 'research in depth' that it shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence :)

Re:Yes (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845108)

I hate to tell you this, but MANY doctors know very little of what is on the market...a large portion of the ones I deal with on a daily basis (I work for a pharmaceutical consulting group, and speak to close to 70 doctors around the country every not the same 708 every day) and a very large number of them do not know what alternatives there are to certain drugs or even what drugs are available for a given condition. Granted, there are doctors out there that are like encyclopedia's, but they are VERY few and far between.

Noticed in your sig you like Bill Hicks (3, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845328)

Me too. Here's my favorite Bill Hicks quote, very relevant to the issue at hand:

By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing... kill yourself.

No, no, no it's just a little thought. I'm just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day, they'll take root - I don't know. You try, you do what you can. Kill yourself.

Seriously though, if you are, do.

Aaah, no really, there's no rationalisation for what you do and you are Satan's little helpers. Okay - kill yourself - seriously. You are the ruiner of all things good, seriously. No this is not a joke, you're going, "there's going to be a joke coming," there's no fucking joke coming. You are Satan's spawn filling the world with bile and garbage. You are fucked and you are fucking us. Kill yourself. It's the only way to save your fucking soul, kill yourself.

Planting seeds. I know all the marketing people are going, "he's doing a joke..." there's no joke here whatsoever. Suck a tail-pipe, fucking hang yourself, borrow a gun from a Yank friend - I don't care how you do it. Rid the world of your evil fucking makinations. Machi... Whatever, you know what I mean.

I know what all the marketing people are thinking right now too, "Oh, you know what Bill's doing, he's going for that anti-marketing dollar. That's a good market, he's very smart."

Oh man, I am not doing that. You fucking evil scumbags!

"Ooh, you know what Bill's doing now, he's going for the righteous indignation dollar. That's a big dollar. A lot of people are feeling that indignation. We've done research - huge market. He's doing a good thing."

Godammit, I'm not doing that, you scum-bags! Quit putting a godamm dollar sign on every fucking thing on this planet!

"Ooh, the anger dollar. Huge. Huge in times of recession. Giant market, Bill's very bright to do that."

God, I'm just caught in a fucking web.

"Ooh the trapped dollar, big dollar, huge dollar. Good market - look at our research. We see that many people feel trapped. If we play to that and then separate them into the trapped dollar..."

How do you live like that? And I bet you sleep like fucking babies at night, don't you?

"What didya do today honey?"

"Oh, we made ah, we made ah arsenic a childhood food now, goodnight." [snores] "Yeah we just said you know is your baby really too loud? You know?" [snores] "Yeah, you know the mums will love it." [snores]

Sleep like fucking children, don't ya, this is your world isn't it?
So, do you think that if doctors don't know the alternatives, we should advertise to the patients?

What exactly does a "pharmaceutical consulting group" do, anyway? Something good, like "Facilitate open communication between drug companies and doctors?" Or something bad like "Figure out how to push more drugs whether people need them or not?"

Re:Noticed in your sig you like Bill Hicks (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845974)

Nope, we are the good guys. We primariy run patient assistance programs and help out with prior authorization appeals.

For those not in the know:

PAP (patient assistance programs) basically means say you are 70 and your only income is social security. You need this injectable drug for the arthritis in your knees. Well, say you cannot afford your copayment. We will either A. Convince the insurance company to lower your copayment. B. Reimburse you in full for the copayment. Or C. Give you the drug for free.

PA Appeals (prior authorization appeals) means say you are taking a drug that requires a prior authorization to get it (i.e. your doctor needs permission from the drug company before prescribing it). Now say they deny that request for permission. We call the insurance company and try to get them to reverse that decision and authorize it.

We are the good guys:-)

WRONG! (2, Insightful)

dafz1 (604262) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845162)

One, new drugs come out ALL of the time. It is impossible for a doctor to know every new drug out there, even with continuing education. These commercials, along with the "pharmaceutical companies bribes" and "pharm babes"(cute drug reps), serve a purpose in educating doctors as well as consumers.

Two, doctors don't know all of the existing drugs before they graduated from medical school, did their residency, etc. They don't have full knowledge of the thousands of drugs that were out there, they were too busy studying where things are in the body, and accepted ways to fix them.

Three, NEVER count on a M.D. for drug information. They have VERY little pharmacology training, and almost no knowledge on drug interactions. That is what pharmacists are for. Doctors prescribe drugs to keep you alive, pharmacists stop them from killing you.

I think they're great (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844578)

I've tried non-trivial medications three times in the last decade. One I asked my doctor about in a general fashion, "are there any new asthma medications I might want to try". Another I learned about in the newspaper. The last I saw on TV.

Your doctor doesn't know what you're interested unless you ask. And unless you see an ad you might not know something even exists to ask about. Sure, some people might ask about things they don't need, but that's a lot less troubling than people not asking for something they do.

Re:I think they're great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17846090)

Instead of asking your doctor is "Spiriva is right for you and your asthma," you should be asking your doctor "Is there anything else you can do to help my astma? The current medicinces aren't working as well as I would like."

I myself AM a doctor.

It amazes me how little patients tell their doctors sometimes. Let me educate you a little on how doctors practice medicine. Patient comes in with problem A. Doctor makes sure that the problem is not something more serious and then goes about treating it. He has medications X, Y, and Z to choose from. He selects one based upon experience and knowledge as to which has the best chance of working and causing the least side effects in MOST people. If this doesn't work or causes too many problems, he moves to the next most promising, and so on.

So many times we get the following scenario: "Well, I went to my doctor and he gave me X. It didn't work and he gave me Y. That still didn't help, so I went to another doctor. He (now knowing X and Y failed) gave me Z and that did the trick right away! I'm so mad my doctor didn't just give me Z to begin with." Other times, patient's just stop complaining about it after Y doensn't work and the doc doesn't even know that he needs to switch to Z.

People, don't get fed up with your doctors, work with them.

Re:I think they're great (1)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17846124)

Wtf, you don't need a commercial to tell you if your asthma medication is working or not. If what you already have works you don't need something else. If it doesn't work you should be complaining to your doctor as it is his job to make sure you have the proper medication.

Breaking News! (1)

Le Marteau (206396) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844580)

From the 'Duhhhhh' department:

They also suggest that the ads may be creating problems at the doctor's office, as some people might become convinced they need a particular medication and insist on getting it, rather than leaving the decision to trained medical professionals

Breaking News! The earth has a rich supply of dummies! Most people's so-called thought processes are made up of a patchwork of what their dysfunctional parents thought, what their nee'r do well friends think, what the TV shows thrust upon their half-baked intellects, and whatever bumpersticker philosophies they have managed to absorb while listening slack-jawed to the ones who speak loudest.

There's More! These dummies tend to make dumb decisions about their lives. What to eat, what to smoke, what to drink, how to behave, and, yes, what drugs to ask of their doctors !

Film at 11!

RLS (1)

otacon (445694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844586)

Raise your hand if you've tried to talk yourself into thinking you have restless leg syndrome. It seems the ads are geared towards making you consider medication you might not need.

Re:RLS (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844680)

What about Ambien? The drug to help you calm your restless mind? With all the shit going on in the world today, only a drugged zombie wouldn't have trouble sleeping some nights. Maybe most nights. Maybe people who can't sleep should take a look at what they can do to improve the world... or maybe their conscience. Yeah, those slave-labor shoes and that oilfield-depleting SUV, they might just be the problem, for those people who still have a conscience... those people who haven't shut it off with drugs, that is.

Re:RLS (1)

otacon (445694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844748)

Yeah really, ambien is known for being dependence forming...they might as well be like hey does your back hurt? ask your doctor about Oxycontin!...or Hey, work and stress getting to you? Try Valium twice daily for desired effects!...for some reason I don't think it's too far off.

of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17844592)

Creating confusion and spurring consumption is the whole point of television drug ads.

Social Action (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844604)

I wouldn't support the government banning them, because they are ultimately not much different than advertising many other products, especially since they are already required to read off the list of side effects. Free speech is important.

But I would support a social movement to make them socially unacceptable. In general, I don't see ads for products that you are literally incapable of safely determining if you need them as a good thing in a world where half the population has below-median IQ.

Ultimately, the harm of these ads is limited as long as doctors correctly do their jobs. To the extent that doctors are not correctly doing their jobs, ah, now there is a place for the government to step in. A social campaign to encourage doctors to use generics as applicable would also be good on many levels, and you might actually be able to get somewhere with this with a reasonable amount of effort, by targetting the insurance companies.

Re:Social Action (1)

honkycat (249849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844792)

A social campaign to encourage doctors to use generics as applicable would also be good on many levels, and you might actually be able to get somewhere with this with a reasonable amount of effort, by targetting the insurance companies.
You know, it really bugs me that doctors don't already automatically prescribe generics. Most insurance companies I've been on require that the pharmacy substitute a generic if available. Further, they have a relatively short list of name brand medications that they'll fully cover if generics are not available. This just makes sense -- other than a few creams and ointments where medically inactive ingredients may improve the efficacy, there's no reason to seek name brands. Yet every doctor I've been to prescribes a name brand product. I was confused when he prescribed Amoxil for my son, until I realized it was just a name brand version of amoxicillin (with another chemical to improve its efficacy). Why should the doctor be perpetuating the idea that there's any reason to prefer Amoxil in the first place? I'd rather he prescribe me the specific chemical and then I can choose the name brand if I want it for some reason. That just seems like a better way for him to do his job.

Re:Social Action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17845054)

Consider that liquor ads were banned for many years.

Re:Social Action (1)

FingerDemon (638040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845156)

I would support a ban on them, not because of the detrimental effect of consumers being confused and wasting doctor's time. But because they cost a freakin fortune! And all of that cost is passed on to you when you pay for it. And it may not feel like drugs are a lot more expensive if you have the same $20 or $30 copay you had before the ads. But you are paying more. And your insurance premiums are going sky high since the insurance companies have to pay the majority of the passthrough of the ads expense.
So, the drug companies make a drug. Then they spend money figuring out how to market it. Then they fix the price of it to cover those expenses and consider all of the expense "research and development". Even if the scientific work of developing and physical manufacturing cost of the drug was small, the expense of creating the ad with two middle aged folks in matching bathtubs outside looking at the sunset could be millions. No matter, it all comes down on you eventually.

Re:Social Action (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845234)

But because they cost a freakin fortune! And all of that cost is passed on to you when you pay for it.
Following this to its logical conclusion, you are advocating the governmental (I assume) ban of all forms of advertising.

The free speech implications of this don't bother you?

Or, more likely, there's some more logical premises that you believe in that you aren't expressing here. Care to try to explicitly express them?

Yes (1)

coldfarnorth (799174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844606)

My wife and father are both doctors, so I'm probably biased, But I's say the answer is unambiguiously YES. Drug adds are an attempt to get the patient to sway the doctor from doing what's best for the patient.

I mean, let's think about this for a moment:
Patient: "Have you considered Sucrosa(tm)? Isn't that sopposed to help me?"
MD: "Damn, you are GOOD! Shoot, I went through 4 years of college, 4 more years of med school, and 3 years of residency, but I never quite got the hang of that diagnosis thing. Thanks, you saved my butt today"

MD: "Oh, BTW, a swift kick to the groin wil probably help you out. . ."

Like I said, I'm a bit biased. . .

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17844764)

Any doctor who acted like that to me for simply asking about a medication would lose my business and I'd actively try to get him or her censured in some way.

Sorry, but doctors are humans. I'm not going to deify them and never ask questions.

Oh, and ask your wife and/or father to teach you the difference between "ad" and "add."

Like I said, I'm a bit biased...

You're also a bit of an ass. More than a bit. If this atttitude comes directly from your wife, I hope her malpractice insurance is paid up.

Not for me (4, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844608)

I identified so much with the little unhappy blob thing on the Zoloft ads, that I finally sought treatment. I am finally free of 20+ years of clinical depression thanks to that ad.

Re:Not for me (5, Funny)

SuperficialRhyme (731757) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844862)

Damn, I could have diagnosed you from your slashdot nick.

Re:Not for me (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845148)

Heh heh. It's meant to be ironic. :) Or something. It's also a quote from Henry David Thoreau (or Pink Floyd if you prefer). Just because I'm no longer clinically depressed doesn't mean I'm not a misanthrope. :D

Bad Idea (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844628)

We're not doctors. We don't know what is wrong with us. We don't know what we need. We shouldn't be going in and requesting specific drugs. The bad thing is that doctors are only getting so much money to see us because of the HMO system, so they get us in and out as fast as possible. If I ask for a certain drug, more than likely I'm going to get it, regardless of whether or not it is beneficial or harmful to my health.

I also thing as a society we are treating symptoms by developing dependencies on medication rather than fixing problems.

If drug companies can afford every other Super Bowl commercial, and drug reps can throw money at every doctor and pharmacist in the country, maybe they can afford to sell drugs at reasonable prices to third world countries.

George W. Bush (love him or hate him, who am I kidding, everyone hates him) maybe did one thing right. He found American drug companies were charging five times as much for AIDS medications in Africa as they charged here. They openly profitted from people's deaths, and played upon their fears.

And yes, I believe their ads play upon emotions. I'd like to see a ban on drug ads on TV. They can spend the money in better places, like further drug research or third world countries.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844740)

Oops. I didn't finish my thought because I was typing so fast.

Bush told the drug companies that if they didn't lower the cost of AIDS medicine in Africa, he would forbid those companies from selling out of the country period and allow someone else to take over that market. He also fought drug companies to lower costs of prescriptions for senior citizens.

Not even Bush likes drug companies.

why else would they advertise if not to sell it? (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844684)

" some people might become convinced they need a particular medication and insist on getting it..."

Of course that's why they're advertising the medication! We can't honestly believe that those ads are only for doctors when they air to a national audience. I really disagree with the viagra/etc ads because they glamorize being on a prescription drug for pleasure and not to cure some disease (i.e. ED).

Doctor = EXPERT! (1)

jhutch2000 (801707) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844752)

Seriously, who goes to the doctor's office and tell him/her what medication MUST be prescribed? Unless you've been to medical school, tell the nice doctor your symptoms and then shut the hell up!

You can ask the doctor WHY this particular medicine is good for you (knowing what is going on is always a good idea), but do NOT presume to know more than the doctor about medicine! Geez.

Re:Doctor = EXPERT! (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844948)

Um, I do? articleId=404 []

Anyone who thinks doctors are infalliable just doesn't have a rare enough medical condition.

Re:Doctor = EXPERT! (1)

jhutch2000 (801707) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845676)

I'm not saying doctors are infallible (they are human just like the rest of us).

However, they are much more qualified than you to determine what a course of treatment should be. I don't care how much you've researched your condition.

That being said, an informed patient is a good thing. You can discuss your treatment with your doctor (everyone should do this), but you don't go into the office and tell the doctor that you need prescription "X". The patient is NOT an expert. Period. Well-informed, intelligent, perhaps ... but not an expert.

They are banned in Britain (3, Interesting)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844758)

TV adverts for drugs are so lightly legislated over here that they are effectively banned (as are all drug adverts). The only one I can remember was a Pfizer advert that was so vague it only really seemed to be about Pele's inability to keep it (presumably a soccer ball) up.

Our medical system is based on the principle that if for have something wrong with you, you see a doctor, and the doctor prescribes the right drug for it if one exists. Therefore, drug companies market to doctors, not to patients, which seems the most sensible way to do it - after all a drug company's spend on advertising is spread a lot less thinly if they only advertise to doctors.

Re:They are banned in Britain (1)

certsoft (442059) | more than 7 years ago | (#17846238)

The US and New Zealand are the only two countries that allow advertising prescription drugs on TV. When I was down in NZ recently there was talk of stopping that practice there.

maybe, but what about the doctors? (1)

Rageon (522706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844766)

I'm all for the line of thinking that you should leave the decisions up to the doctors? But what happens when the doctors start prescribing medications based not on what is best for you, but which drug company gave them enough free crap to convince them to start recommending the drug? And if you think this doesn't happen, you're sorely mistaken.

Re:maybe, but what about the doctors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17845376)

Actually, it's a fun game to play when visiting your GP: "How much merchandise in this office carries the name of the drug I've just been prescribed?"
10 points for a wallchart, 5 for mugs, 2 for notepads, and 1 for a pen.

Re:maybe, but what about the doctors? (1)

NIckGorton (974753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17846266)

When that happens, the particular doctor in question gets his ass sued into oblivion because of that behavior.

The problem is (almost never) nefarious intent or a willingness to sell out a patient's best interests for a plastic pancreas. The problem is more that drug detailing *works very well*. The drug company knows that if you see a plastic pancreas bearing the name XOLOCXA you will be more likely to think of XOLOCXA and prescribe it to your patients. They also know that the detail rep will be able to glom onto a little of your time because the social pressures inherent in accepting the pancreas of doom. Someone gives you a lunch, a plastic pancreas, and a USB drive that looks like a XOLOCXA tablet and well... you hafta talk to the (usually a sexy looking) woman for a little while. Duh. Of course during that 15 minutes you are subjected to a detailed description of the utility of XOLOCXA and get copies of the pharma-sponsored research that (shock and horror!) showed a positive outcome. (I actually read an article a while back that pharma recruits their drug reps from college cheerleading squads. Pretty sick.)

And that is the exact reason that the only thing I ever accept from a drug detail rep is drug samples. I don't even particularly like accepting that, but its a necessary evil for some of my patients. Even the availability of samples makes me more familiar with a certain set of drugs... so it is easier for me to rx because I know more about it.


Doctors get Pharmcked too (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844776)

About 5 years back I was in for a regular checkup and asked the doc to write me a prescription for a drug I didn't need because it was sold in two versions - one brand name for an 8mg dose for one symptom and a different brand name for 2mg dose for another symptom. The kick was that the 8mg dose and the 2mg dose cost the same, so I wanted a script for the 8mg version and a pill cutter to cut them into quarters, for 75% savings on a per dose basis.

He was very happy to do it because he was sick of the drug marketing bullshit that is aimed at him and his fellow doctors. The kind of marketing that convinces the docs to prescribe the expensive but only equal or somtimes even less effective drugs rather than the tried and true and cheap ones. He was of the opinion that doctors are just as much a victim of misleading marketing as patients, it just came to them in a different form (office visits from drug marketers and ads in various journals).

News For Nerds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17844804)

Since when did slashdot care so much about the pharmaceutical industry? I rarely, if ever see any articles on slashdot related the the drugmakers.

Or is this story just an opportunity for the lefty crowd to bash Big Pharma?

This parody says it all (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844876) []

"Panexa: ask your doctor for a reason to take it"

Self-diagnosis and bad doctors (0)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844892)

Yes - proper diagnosis and selection of appropriate treatment is best left to doctors. In an ideal world, this would be a flawless and quick process. But doctors are human too. You only get one life, one body - it's best to be an informed and an active participant in your own health care.

Doctors hate self-diagnosers (sometimes with good reason). However, for every 10 patients who insist that they have a certain condition and that they absolutely need Brand Name Drug X, there is a bad doctor who doesn't listen to what his patients tell him and prescribes the latest drug-du-jour that is being pushed by his sexy pharmaseutical rep.

We've all heard stories or had family members who've been to a doctor with a particular complaint and have been given the run-around for months: "Try this pill." "Ok, that didn't work, try this ointment." "I don't care what you read, you don't have [medical condition]." When they finally reach the end of their rope, they go find another doctor who actually listens to all the complaints, runs the appropriate tests, takes time to correctly diagnose the issue, and then treats the root cause - and (will wonders never cease!) the issue goes away.

So even though the doctor is the "expert", in the end it is your body and your health. Find a good doctor that will listen to you and don't be afraid to do research on your own. If your doctor can't handle you taking an active role in your own health care and can't or won't take the time to discuss the hows/whys with you, then FIND ONE WHO CAN AND WILL.

Leaving the decision (1)

dereference (875531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17844904)

as some people might become convinced they need a particular medication and insist on getting it, rather than leaving the decision to trained medical professionals.
Calling this a "problem" is entirely indicative of our totally flawed and failing (if not failed) health care system. The pure arrogance is astounding.

Make all the available information public, and let us decide. If we want your opinion, o great and revered medical professional, we'll ask. But we don't need or want this profession's nanny-style tactics to dictate--against our better judgment--what we can and can't use in an attempt to make and/or keep ourselves healthy.

If I want to act a certain way in a business dealing, I may ask a lawyer for advice. That lawyer is obligated to give me the best possible legal advice, but I'm not obligated to follow it, and I'm certainly not forced to do so. Consider an analogy between computer professionals and medical professionals for a moment. There certainly exist such professionals in both fields that are ignorant, incompetent, insensitive, immoral, etc. Now if any computer professionals refuse to, say, reformat my hard drive because they feel it is not in my best interest, well, screw them--give me all the relevant information about the risks and let me decide--I may still want it reformatted. If any medical professionals refuse to, say, perform a procedure or give me some medication because they feel it is not in my best interest, well, screw them--give me all the relevant information about the risks and let me decide--I may still want the medicine/procedure.

We express outrage routinely here, if anybody dares dictate how and when we're allowed to use digital content, for crying out loud. I'd say that deciding where I can play a song is far less important than deciding how I'm allowed to care for my health and well being.

Re:Leaving the decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17845248)

If you screw up your computer by reformatting when it isn't necessary, it's not at ALL like getting the wrong medication.

There's this confusion about "our body our rights." If you take a medication whose serious and likely interaction may cause you to develop, say, a condition where you may faint at any moment, and you decide to drive a car and you faint and someone gets killed, it isn't just you who has been impacted.

If you suffer a debilitating condition that brings you into the emergency room, how fair is it that your condition -- which could have been avoided with proper medication (or lack of medication) -- is taking resources in this already crowded emergency room?

How about even if YOU die and it's only you. Now your family and loved ones have to endure the consequences of your actions.

My body, my decision? Sounds pretty selfish to me.

Re:Leaving the decision (1)

dereference (875531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845686)

If you take a medication whose serious and likely interaction may cause you to develop, say, a condition where you may faint at any moment, and you decide to drive a car and you faint and someone gets killed, it isn't just you who has been impacted.
Yes, it was my decision, and I should be held fully responsible for the outcome, not the doctor. Society already has well-established rules and penalty systems in place to handle this. Don't protect me from myself, thank you very much. We're far too quick to place all blame on others ("yes, but the doctor gave me the medicine; sue or jail the doctor, not me").

how fair is it that your condition [...] is taking resources in this already crowded emergency room?
Are you serious? Do you notice how, if I remove the part about following a doctor's advice, this argument falls completely apart? Look, this has nothing to do with doing the right thing, it has to do with being allowed to disagree. Certainly you must admit that somewhere along the line there has been a doctor who gave bad advice, which was dutifully followed, which turned out to have made the situation tremendously worse than if the advice had not been followed. Humans make mistakes. I'd suggest that this happens far more often than you've ever considered.

How about even if YOU die and it's only you. Now your family and loved ones have to endure the consequences of your actions.
So, my family would prefer that I be forced to trust such important decisions on a third-party? I don't think so. I suspect you've never known anybody with a so-called "terminal" or degenerative affliction. Once you have experienced this first or second hand, you'll probably find that patients' rights are really quite limited in practice.

My body, my decision? Sounds pretty selfish to me.
You must be trolling. I suppose you prefer "my body, your decision" instead? Even if I get what I'm asking, you can still live your totally protected "make decisions for me please" way and blindly (or perhaps on faith) obey every doctor or other professional. So please just live and let live, without forcing your ideals upon me.

Probably damaging (1)

lewp (95638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845016)

Plavix says, "No matter how formidable you are, you're no match for a dangerous clot."

This is incredibly damaging. You know there's going to be some dock worker in New Jersey who desperately needs Plavix who's going to say "Oh yeah? Some fuckin' clot gets in my body I'll whoop its ass!" It's like a dare.

I wonder how many badasses are going to have to die before they pull this campaign.

Actually a Big Problem (1)

ironwill96 (736883) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845050)

My brother and his wife completed medical school over a year ago and are both Doctors now (still in residency). This is actually a major concern that has come up both during their time in medical school and now in their work at the hospital. My brother has related how numerous times people come in and try to self-diagnose their issues and suggest treatments even though they are almost always wrong about what they have!

If you've ever watched "House" when Dr. House is in the clinic and people are always telling him what they have, it may be done in an over the top humorous way but that sort of thing actually happens on a daily basis. Places like WebMD may be great for regular people to find out information about things, but its a real pain to the Doctors when people come in and say "Well I have some stomach pain and my head hurts so I must have appendicitis according to the symptoms I saw on WebMD!" or some other crazy diagnosis based on a few random symptoms (that could belong to any number of other more benign problems).

So yes, I think this is a huge issue and that the Pharmacy companies are really doing a dis-service to people when they convince them that this medicine is the next best thing and to "ask your Doctor about it!" because when they go in and want that medicine but are denied it because it is not appropriate for them or has too many negative interactions with existing medicines they are angry with the Doctor and think that they are "incompetent" somehow. Instead, they need to trust the fact that Doctors go through years of rigorous training followed by extensive exams to make sure they know what they are doing. I've watched as they both went through medical school and it is a LOT of work, they are extremely knowledgeable and there is no way I would try to tell doctors what I have since i'm not qualified to offer an opinion on it.

Re:Actually a Big Problem (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845530)

There are also many physicians who don't listen to their patients, since they know better and the patient is, by definition, an idiot. Their patients should just shut-up, pay the bill and get the hell out of the office before they waste any more of the physician's valuable time.

Re:Actually a Big Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17845658)

Why is it such a HUGE issue? I still don't see the point. From your post, it's a problem because the doctors have to put up with someone inquiring about and suggesting treatments? They should suck it up. It's a doctor's job to consult with their patients. By all means, if a patient is suggesting something unnecessary a doctor can and should say no, but that does NOT mean a patient doesn't have the right to ask.

If your doctor doesn't want you asking questions and trying to understand your ailment, then you need a new doctor. No human being is infallible and everyone, everyone makes mistakes sometimes.

Yes. Doctors have extensive training in medicine and the human body. That does not mean they completely understand how it works. They understand better than most, but not completely. My doctor once diagnosed a sprained ankle as a severe fracture. This is a minor mistake, but it was a mistake.

I trust doctors to generally know what's best, but I do not trust them to always know what's best. That's why you're encouraged to get a second opinion.

Back to the original point. The ads are marketing and are there for the same reason every ad is on TV, to trick people into buying your product. Drugs are no different than any other product. The companies should be able to let their customer's know about a product. If you argue that the doctors are the customer's not the patients, this is just another way of reaching them (through the patients.)

I see no major problem except for the whiny doctors that have to put up with the inconvenience of people asking about/demanding a drug they see on TV. If they can't explain to their patient why a particular drug isn't best, then maybe they should be considering it.

Not saying the rest of the world is right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17845052)

But I'm pretty certain the US is the only country in the world where prescription drugs are marketed directly to the public.

Symptoms may include... (1)

Inmatarian (814090) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845062)

I love it how most of the drugs I see on TV, most of the rare side effects include severe heart attack requiring hospitalization.

Ads are ads (1)

alshithead (981606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845078)

That's why you find a good doctor to consult, isn't it? As a corollary, it behooves you to read the fine print and ask your pharmacist for their opinion. They may be better educated about side effects and ultimate results. Anecdotal reports are important in this case! As a third step, you should be careful to note how the medicine affects you. Any points of concern should be addressed with your primary care physician and/or pharmacist.

They're a waste of my time (1)

matt328 (916281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845140)

I personally ignore them. I'll trust my doctor over a TV commercial any day. If he thinks I need some drug, he'll suggest or prescribe it.

Bankrupting the company (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845450)

Those ads triggered Bush's Medicare prescription plan, which is a significant portion of the $50 trillion overhang of unfunded future liabilities of the U.S. government. We Gen X'ers don't owe the baby boomers patented drugs. If they want to be drugged off the public dole, they should be happy with ten-year-old drugs (first ten years of patented medicine is with the FDA).

Yes and No (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845506)

Yes because it convinced many that they had "Adult Attention Deficit Disorder" which isn't real or whatnot but rakes in big bucks (ritalin ftw)

No, because hospitals are more dangerous to your health than any drug ad. So what if people think they need something, if they don't trust their doctor they should get a new one.

Scary (1)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845662)

I find these kind of ads to be downright scarry.

Joe Public does not have the training to understand what he has, or what he needs to cure it. Half of the medications they market like this solve issues that shouldn't be an issue to begin with, but are becasue of bad health choices. Overall, it seems like they go out of their way to not state anything of any importance in these ads.

Its always some older, fit guy walking through a forest, or up a mountian, or over a desert. Its always some beautiful vista with chirping birds and sunsets. Ocean waves and soft rain.

It never says anything about the damn drug, it wont advise you of the side effects in a way that you'd actually grasp what it could do, it never identifies how to diagnose whatever it is it is supposed to cure other then some really vague term "Do you wake up at night? Do your legs feel weird, like they need to move? Does your wife seem unhappy?"

Price is never in a commercial of this sort, they dont present other options, they only tell you to ask your doctor about their product. thats it. Ask about viagra, cialis, caduet, whatever. Bug him with 10,000 drugs you dont want or need, in the hopes a few are sold.

Free speech and unintended consequences (1)

psydzl (738376) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845760)

Reasonable people will disagree over whether these commercials are good or bad, but banning this type of commercial speech can have unintended consequences. Maybe all commercials are bad. There are all kinds of speech that cause problems in one way or another. There are all kinds of speech that society would be much better off without. But free speech is so valuable that it is worth it to suffer the ill effects of bad speech. Bad speech should be countered with good speech, not censorship.

Maybe (1)

Stormcrow309 (590240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845776)

There is a huge ethical debate within the Healthcare community on Medication Advertising. On one hand, some people might not know that options beyond what the doctor is suggesting exists. This fact makes Medication Advertising an additional component to Informed Consent, an important concept within Healthcare in the USA. On the other hand, every female hypochondriac might be going, "I think I am suffering from ED."

It does cause Patients to push doctors into subscribing medicine. I am not sure that is any better or worse then vendor reps pushing doctors into subscribing medicine.

In Canada, it's on purpose (1)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845872)

You can't link a prescription drug with the disease/condition it treats in advertising. So you can have the following ads: -Couple living a happy life... "Talk to your doctor about X" -"Condition Y could be serious, talk to your doctor today about treatments available" So companies produce vague commercials where you have no idea what the drug does, just so they can get the name out there, and commercials hyping up a certain condition just to get people pestering their doctor about possible treatments. This is usually coupled with pestering doctors about their product.

In Canada... (1)

IpSo_ (21711) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845878)

This is partly why in Canada commercials for pharmaceuticals are restricted to one of the following:

1. Explain what the drug does, WITHOUT saying its name.
2. Say the drugs name, but don't explain what it does.

Hence the reason why our Viagra ads have some guy bouncing (jumping) in a very stiff standing position down a street with a huge smile on his face, then it says: "VIAGRA" at the end.

The problem is... (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845908)

When I moved to the US from Europe I was amazed to see a really terrible pill-popping culture here, where you can (and most people do) get a pill for almost anything, even though adverts on TV make it clear most drugs side-effects are way more serious than the symptom they are attempting to address.

In the US it seems pefectly acceptable that normal people are on at least one presription at any one time, which is ridiculous. I'm amazed by the amount of perscriptions the average person (i.e. my frinds) have in their bathroom cabinets here. Its a massive marketing scam by the drug companies.

I'm sure this has a direct correlation to very low average age of natural death in the US comapared to most other countries.

Depends on the quality of the doctor (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#17845918)

They also suggest that the ads may be creating problems at the doctor's office, as some people might become convinced they need a particular medication and insist on getting it, rather than leaving the decision to trained medical professionals.

I'm the ex-wife of a doctor, and I can tell you the inside story about this.

The truth value of the above quote depends very much on what is meant by 'trained'. If your doctor's training occurred thirty years ago, and if he or she doesn't keep up with the latest research, then there could be great benefit from patient knowledge... even if that knowledge is only scant or one-sided.

Very many -- perhaps even most -- senior doctors don't bother to keep abreast of the state of the art. You know how most peoples' minds congeal at around age thirty, because they've "thought enough" and now have it All Figured Out? The same phenomenon occurs with doctors too, of course, but much worse because they already have a deity complex. So, it could well be the case that new research information is flowing like this:

TV commercial -> patient -> doctor

The doctor would then be prompted to read up on some new drug which his or her patients are requesting.

Good-quality doctors are already doing their homework, and I'm sure they're tired of the deluge that washes into their office each time a new drug hits the airwaves during Wheel of Fortune. But we aren't hearing the other half of the story -- about all the doctors who (would never admit that they) hear about new drugs through their patients.

Used to work in this industry. (5, Interesting)

SnowDog74 (745848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17846036)

I left pharmaceutical sales because, quite frankly, I was tired of being nothing more than an interruption in a doctor's day. In fact, I left sales entirely as a result of that experience.

The entire purpose of pharmaceutical sales at the doctor, clinic and hospital administration level is this: To abnormally influence the prescribing of drugs beyond what information is public by way of peer-reviewed scientific research. The drugs your doctors prescribe are sometimes influenced by how many pens, pads, lunches, dinners and other free crap are given to the physician and/or his staff. The drugs your insurance company covers are most influenced by what pharmaceutical company wines and dines the formulary administrators the most.

Physicians and administrators who participate in golf junkets, etc., are just as much to blame, but that doesn't remove the culpability of the pharmaceutical companies who know exactly what they're doing and are constantly pushing to be able to intrude even more in the treatment of a patient by way of these methods.

There are examples of egregious behavior at various levels of the pharmaceutical business ranging from minor nuisances to egregious breaches of ethics. One competing company's rep, while I was covering Mayo Clinic, got his company kicked out for six months by following a physician into his office WHILE the physician was seeing a patient... What was the rep's urgent matter? To deliver his canned sales pitch for his product. There have been pharmaceutical companies nailed for including large gifts in honorariums given to physicians for speaking on behalf of their products.

Mayo Clinic is one of the few institutions that has extremely strict rules... No pens, no pads, no papers, samples are signed in through a controlled process giving the rep very limited access to physicians. At the same time, they'll gladly throw up a banner for your product if you'll give them a huge research grant... While that's no guarantee that they'll bias the research in the pharma company's favor, human nature is such that money tends to drive a sense of obligation to the benefactor.

The advertisements have taken the Creationist approach to marketing... by appealing to the opinions and attitudes of the average, uninformed layperson. In doing so, they are still interfering in the process without really contributing anything of value that cannot be obtained by a physician who keeps up by reading the peer-reviewed journals on his or her own time... as a good physician will want to do. Physicians already have a motivation to do this research... it's called avoiding malpractice lawsuits.

Previously reputable pharmaceutical companies have stepped up and started direct advertising to consumers on television... It's getting worse and the cacophony of products being advertised by these companies creates a confusing atmosphere of insufficient information that does what exactly? The commercials don't begin by encouraging patients experiencing certain symptoms to go see their doctor and let them do their educated diagnoses. The ads begin by summarizing symptoms in a manner that creates a sort of confirmation bias, i.e. rattling off a barrage of symptoms, one of which might lead the viewer to suspect they need the drug... while ignoring the specific COMBINATION of symptoms that preclude a specific diagnosis. Then the ads encourage the patient who SUSPECTS they might have this problem not to go to the doctor and find out the proper course of treatment... but to "ask your doctor for".

They know what they're doing and even though I agree, simultaneously, in the principle of customer awareness... The ignorance of the average customer does not change the fact that it was the intention of the company to defraud and profit on the basis of that ignorance and therefore does not make the company any less responsible for doing so.

While I agree that medical science is a luxury and not a public utility, the health of a country's citizens does directly impact the nation's productivity, standard of living, infrastructure and global competitiveness. It is most certainly in the people's interest to have government intervene on their behalf at some level to ensure that we don't end up with a nation of people being convinced they need to destroy their livers on 4th line antibiotics (e.g. fluoroquinolones) prescribed up front for a respiratory infection that could have been treated with a 1st or 2nd line agent (e.g. erythromycin).

If you think I'm making up this last example, note that the FDA ended up restricting the indications for use of Trovan after it was already introduced despite numerous deaths from liver toxicity in clinical trials. The clinical studies that prompted original FDA approval were sponsored by Pfizer, and the liver toxicity factor was downplayed by Pfizer marketing... and then it hit the market and people started dying because Pfizer was actively telling their reps to encourage doctors to prescribe this class of drug -- usually reserved for hospitalized, immunocompromised patients who are already facing death -- for the mildest of respiratory infections.

The problem is that, for companies like Pfizer, this sort of behavior is the rule rather than the exception.

they should save their money and lower prices!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17846076)

I can see the need for pharma companies to advertise their OTC drugs, but the prescription ones are the ones i seem to see the most. Why do they advertise something that needs a doctors permission in the end anyway? It seems they're blowing millions if not billions on these adds which they must make back by overpricing their already overpriced products. IMHO there should be a ban on adds for prescription drugs. It seems they could do much more productive things with the $ they waste on them. Like lower MSRPs or provide discounts to third world patients since they are essentially killing many of them by not allowing immediate generics.

I would ban them all (1)

More Than Happy (974604) | more than 7 years ago | (#17846158)

One, because I resent the pharmaceutical companies trying to attack the subconscious mind of the consumer to pressure doctors, but mostly because no matter what they tell you about the drugs, they do not know the long-term effects of these drugs.

They've run experiments and computer models, but the only way to learn the true extent of the drugs is experience. The risks cannot be ignored. I mean, the tell you about the risks of heart-attack, stroke, and liver failure on these commercials - can you imagine the potential effects they aren't aware of, or aren't telling the public?

It's worse than you think... (4, Informative)

Gordo_1 (256312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17846246)

This article [] points out that even doctors are susceptible to drug company advertising:

"...according to a review published in the Jan. 19, 2000, Journal of the American Medical Association. Ashley Wazana, M.D., of McGill University, analyzed 29 studies of relations between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry and found that the industry's marketing efforts clearly influence doctors' prescribing habits, although most doctors do not believe this to be true."
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