junk science

...now browsing by tag


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

Friday, 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

Oprah and medical advice

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Let me start by saying that I love Oprah. And I am forever grateful to her for having me on her show because appearing on Oprah helped me introduce my memoir, The Ditchdigger’s Daughters, to a huge audience. I’m sure it contributed to making my book a bestseller.

All that said, I have to agree with this Newsweek article. The authors argue that the medical advice given by some of the guests on The Oprah Winfrey Show is dubious at best, especially the claims about bio-identical hormones made by celebrities with no medical knowledge or training.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH