If you watched any amount of TV the past few years you may have noticed a significant increase in commercials hyping prescription medication. At the same time research is showing that prescription drug abuse and addiction is on the rise, especially among adolescents. Should we blame TV for this increase? Well I don’t think so, but it sure does support a quick fix mentality that is all too apparent in our culture. After all if you have a problem all you need to do is pop a pill.
My medical colleagues have complained to me that many of their patients are demanding specific medications that they saw on TV—if it’s advertised on TV it much be safe; for example the commercials advertising Lunesta, a sleep medication. After all how can such a cute butterfly be dangerous?
I just ran across a recent Johns Hopkins Health Alert that emphasized that it’s not so black and white of an issue as you can see by a portion of that report below.
A study, carried out by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, and the marketing research firm Harris Interactive Inc., found that 72% of the physicians surveyed believed that advertising had increased their patients’ understanding of possible drug treatment.
Another interesting finding: One in four doctor visits spurred by DTC advertising resulted in a new diagnosis. This suggests that advertising may help some people to recognize that they have a treatable health problem.
However, DTC advertising can also cause confusion. In the Harvard-Harris survey, many physicians said that ads often left their patients with a lopsided view of the risks and benefits of medications, with a bias toward potential benefits. The FDA survey, too, concluded that people tended to view drugs they learned about through these ads as more effective than they actually were.
For a look at this complete Health Alert please go to: http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com then search for
Direct To Consumer Drug Ads.
The next time you’re watching TV pay attention to the pharmaceutical commercials and decide for yourself.