I know I’ve arrived in Bizarro World when Bill Frist and I agree on something: The introduction of a moratorium on drug ads to consumers.
Frist, a Republican from Tennessee and a heart-lung replacement surgeon, on July 1 asked drug makers for a voluntary, two-year moratorium on direct-to-consumer advertising, the type that consumers see on television and in magazines.
The problem is that consumers see the ads on television for products promising to “make them better” and then go to the doctors, requesting the drugs by name. I have no personal experience with this, as I think our society is already overly-medicated, so my assumptions are based on what I read, but the doctors will apparently prescribe what the patients ask for, rather than offer less expensive and perhaps better performing alternatives.
The drug makers obviously want to continue advertising directly to consumers. Even Eli Lilly’s spokesman says their advertising directs patients to the doctor’s office, but many people go while it’s not medically necessary, unduly influenced by advertising — advertising which accentuates benefits and downplays risks. On the other hand, drug companies blame the doctors for not saying “no” to patients who ask for unnecessary medication.
Updated July 16, 2010 and originally published August 2, 2005. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.