Pharmaceutical Advertisements

Drug commercials really annoy me.  I want my doctor prescribing what’s best for me, not what I suggest to him from what I saw on a commercial.  So when I see an article about this subject, it catches my attention.

Here’s one I that sheds a lot of insight: How Does the Drug Industry Get Away with Broadcasting Those Deceptive Ads?

For instance, did you know that the U.S. is one of only two countries in the world that allows for pharmaceuticals to advertise directly to consumers (DTC)?

Such ads are permitted only in the U.S. and New Zealand. They are intended to provoke an individual consumer to request a specific prescription drug from their doctor. In 2009, the pharmaceutical industry spent an estimated $4.5 billion on such advertising. Total 2007 U.S. pharma industry sales were $315 billion.

It all started about 30 years ago, but the movement really started back in 1997.

n 1981, Merck published the first DTC ad for a prescription drug, Pneumovax, in Reader’s Digest. It was followed by numerous print ads, and in 1983, the first television prescription drug ad for Boots Pharmaceutical’s Rufen, prescription strength ibuprofen.

Over the next decade-plus, the pharmaceutical industry, emboldened by the Reagan-era belief in “limited government,” steadily pushed to deregulate DTC ads. In 1997, the FDA loosened advertising rules leading to an enormous increase in DTC ad spending.

I remember seeing a 60 Minutes segment on how advertising agencies come up with catchy acronums like IBS or RLS instead of the medical community.  I search the web all over for the segment but couldn’t find it, but recall it was truly eye-opening.


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One Response to Pharmaceutical Advertisements

  1. Daniel says:

    I personally don't have a big problem with the ads. They seem just like any other product that a company advertises. There are plenty of products that could hurt me if I'm not responsible and don't make sure I know what I'm doing before using them – Alcoholic beverages, OTC medicines, household cleaners, lawn equipment, etc.. But that's part of being a responsible adult. If I'm stupid enough to overrule my doctor on what medicine is best for me based on a tv ad and he gives in and gives it to me, then neither of us is being a very responsible person. Given the choice, I'd rather the pharma industry focus on influencing my choices rather than my doctor.

    Just my $.02

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