It seems like just about every day there is a new medication on the market– every time you turn on the TV, radio, or open a newspaper or magazine there is a big advertisement telling you to ask your doctor about a new drug on the market. This form of advertising is called “direct-to-consumer” marketing (or DTC Marketing) and is only allowed in two countries: New Zealand and the United States.
The purpose of these advertisements is to obviously increase pharmaceutical sales by encouraging you to bring it up with your doctor. If you, the patient, go to your doctor and say, “I saw this new medication and I want to talk about if it’s right for me,” there may be a higher chance the doctor prescribes it. This works out great for the pharmaceutical company. However, it upsets the process of patient-care and medication evaluation that we believe so strongly in. Instead of asking the doctor to evaluate your health and decide if a medicine is necessary, the conversation starts with drugs.
In all fairness, there are probably many cases of people who were at home, saw an advertisement for a medication, and were truly helped by the advertised medication. Perhaps they had no idea their symptoms were abnormal and now lead full lives– and this is wonderful. However, recommending medication to a general population may not be the best approach– the commercials sound great but the medication may actually only be appropriate for a very small percentage of the population.
We are going to continue this topic next week as we talk about new drugs and patient involvement. In the meantime, here’s what the FDA officially has to say about DTC Marketing… FDA DTC Marketing.