Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Direct to consumer advertising

A lively discussion about DTC advertising took place on NPR’s Science Friday featuring our very own DB of Med Rants. It’s archived here and definitely worth the listen. When I was doing ambulatory medicine a few years ago there was relatively little DTC advertising. I’m sure it would drive me crazy now. One of the greatest harms done by DTC advertising, as pointed out by DB, is that patients tend to come to their appointments requesting unnecessary medications. As a result doctors have so spend 5 minutes or so explaining to the patient why that medication is inappropriate. That takes precious time away from more important matters.

Many of the ads hawk “me too” and lifestyle drugs although that is not always the case. One caller saw ads for Novolog and Lantus---revolutionary advances in the treatment of diabetes---and had to ask her endocrinologist for a prescription.

Conspicuously absent from the discussion was any mention of the effect of the incessant criticism of pharmaceutical marketing to doctors on DTC advertising. I suspect it has led to increased DTC ads.

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