Not surprisingly drug companies do everything they can to get doctors to prescribe their products. It matters not that their medications are no better than generics, that their medications cost more than the annual average income in the U.S., that there are other better drugs available. They pay for the ads and for the prominence of the drug recommendations. Take the “wonderful” free app Epocrates: Please.
But like so much else on the Web, “free” comes with a price: doctors must wade through marketing messages on Epocrates that try to sway their choices of which drugs to prescribe.
However, the marketing through Epocrates is more insidious, according to Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, an associate professor of medicine at Georgetown University and founder of PharmedOut, a nonprofit group critical of drug companies’ marketing practices.
“With targeted ads in Google, you may buy something that’s an unwise purchase,” she said. “But when a physician is influenced in Epocrates, it’s the patient (Medicynical addendum: and insurer) who’s bearing the financial and health risk.”
Dr. Fugh-Berman and other critics of drug marketing say the apps promote more expensive and sometimes less effective drugs. The companies say they are helping doctors find the best medicines.
Medicynical Note: This type advertising costs us all money, whether we pay directly for the medication or our insurer covers the cost. Doctors have lived too long in the world where cost is not a consideration in their treatment options. We need to encourage value, as well as efficacy, in health care. The U.S. has the most expensive, most inefficient and perhaps only non system of health care operational in the industrialized world. We can do better……..maybe.
If you think about it, the medical industry itself is one the profits from the sickness (rather than the health) of its patients, right? That’s sad enough. Now, if patients can’t trust their physicians because they are being influenced by these advertisements, who can they trust? Thanks for posting this eye-opening piece.
In their own words, Epocrates sells ‘Influence at the Moment of Decision’ to big pharma. Check out their sales pitch for pharma companies to buy advertising with them below.
Google ‘unbiased medical apps’ for more information and better options.