Drug advertising–It’s time to insist on full disclosure!

I’m tired of hearing about 4 hour erections and the amazing benefits of various drugs on TV.  In these ads  benefits are exaggerated, the side effects glossed over and costs ignored.  They drive bad practices in the medical community; encourage the use of expensive medications when inexpensive generics work just as well; and distort the already dysfunctional medical marketplace.

Every penny devoted to drug advertising must be paid for by the consumer–4.5 billion dollars this year.   Medicynic suggests:

1. Prohibit direct to consumer (DTC) advertising. In a 30 second ad provision of complete information is not possible. As a result manipulation of information is inevitable and patients do not fully understand the limited benefit and costs of any given product. It is a fact that few countries allow such advertising.

2. If we do not wish to completely prohibit DTC advertising, we must insist on  full disclosure. This would include mention and clear explanation of  risk of treatment, a summary of proven benefits and competing approaches in clear language that a lay person can understand. The price of the medication, with estimates of monthly and yearly costs both in absolute terms and in comparison with alternatives should also be provided.  Finally a measure of cost effectiveness (cost/unit of additional survival time or other approved measure) must be also be provided to fully inform the consumer.

We need to face the fact that uncontrolled market driven medical care is a luxury we can no longer afford–it also doesn’t work.  Write your Representative or Senator now!

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