Monday, August 28, 2006

Direct-to-consumer drug marketing

In the August 21 edition of the Christian Science Monitor, Jonathan Rowe Drug ads sell a problem, not a solution addresses the issue of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical monitoring.

Rowe comments comments on the practice of "selling sickness and notes, "Medicine is supposed to be about science, not huckstering; about healing people, not persuading more of them that they are sick. There are far better ways to inform the public about health issues than to spend billions of dollars a year pushing pills."

Where might potential benefit lie? Some, including lobbying groups for the pharmaceutical industry, argue that the ads increase consumer knowledge of treatment options for their conditions and may lead individuals to be more active in medical decision-making. Potential harm? Others argue that these drugs lead to overdiagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, pursuit of inappropriate therapy by patients, and interference in the patient-doctor communication process.

The article mentions a statement released last fall, signed by 200+ medical school faculty members, calling for an end to direct-to-consumer drug marketing.

The American Medical Association has what might be considered a fairly lenient policy about direct-to-consumer marketing and is currently advocating more research into the positive and negative potential impact of these advertisements.

This topic was also the focus of a recent Institute of Medicine workshop (previous post here) and FDA scrutiny of the issue.

A quick PubMed search yields many articles reflecting these and other viewpoints.

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