Lawmakers: direct-to-consumer ads for prescription drugs are a problem

Written by yvonnethornton on July 31st, 2009

As I’ve written before, I am troubled by direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs. Only a doctor who knows your medical history and has done and interpreted any necessary tests can determine whether you need a prescription drug and which one you should be taking.

Now, a few lawmakers have proposed bills that would help limit this practice. Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article about the legislative proposals:

“For some legislators and consumer advocates, the ads are a daily reminder of a health care system run amok. Critics contend that drug ads are intended to prompt people to diagnose themselves with chronic quality-of-life problems like insomnia or restless leg syndrome; lead people to pressure their doctors for prescriptions for expensive brand-name drugs to treat these conditions; and steer people away from cheaper generic pills.

“And, critics say, such ads may overstate benefits and understate risks of drugs, or by drumming up audiences for the latest pills at a time when the side effects of such drugs may not yet be fully known.”

I agree with all the above and hope that Congress will act. One suggested bill would deny pharmaceutical companies a tax break for the cost of creating and running such ads. That sounds like a good start. The rest of us shouldn’t subsidize these direct-to-consumer ads through our tax dollars.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH


1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Zipporah Redding says:

    I just wanted to let you know how much “The Ditchdigger’s Daughters” book touched my life. Growing up as a child from a one parent household, people often doubt you will become something because they think you will become a failure like those who make different choices. I on the other hand was determined not to be one of those people. I was home schooled and i was taught to get my education and be the best that i could be at anything i put my mind to. I’ve read the book 3 times and each times, and each time i take something from the book reminding me that we all go through hard times, but if we keep going and don’t give up we will reach our dreams. I’m now 22 with an a.s. degree in pharmacy technology, i’m going back to school next fall to get my b.s in nursing with a specialty in ob/gyn. The book has inspired me to keep dreams alive by doing what it takes to make my dreams reality. Thank you for sharing your story, i hope to one day hear from you. All my best Zipporah Redding CPhT, A.S.

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