07 February 2008

Pharmaceutical Ads Since 1997

Amazing. The FDA only gave its blessings to "direct to consumer" ads for prescription drugs in 1997. Those ads now sponsor our nightly news and pay the production costs of our magazines. That was just 10 years ago -- who paid in 1996?

The LA Times has an opinion piece on how the ads have "fundamentally altered the doctor-patient relationship by forcing physicians to respond to people's demands for heavily touted drugs, rather than taking the initiative in suggesting treatments."

"DTC advertising increases people's awareness of diseases and available treatments," Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an industry group, says on its website. "Studies show DTC advertising brings patients into their doctor's office and starts important doctor-patient conversations about health that might otherwise not have happened."

For example, how many people would have thought to ask about "restless legs syndrome" until pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline launched a DTC campaign in 2003 to raise awareness of the problem.
Good point. It appears that the industry is now moving to tackle the problem of "excessive sleepiness." They've got something other than a cup of coffee in mind -- and it's not a recommendation to get more sleep...

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