Promotion or Peddling?

June 26, 2017

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Promotion or Peddling
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The Low-down on Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertisements and What They Mean For Us, As Healthcare Consumers.

Do you ever feel like you can’t escape the pharmaceutical advertisements? It’s rare to watch a television show, read a magazine, or go on social media now a days without running into some sort of advertisement for a new prescription drug. But, aside from being a nuisance, what do these advertisements mean for us as consumers?

For several years, there’s been debate over whether the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should be re-tightening regulations for pharmaceutical companies to advertise to consumers but, what it really comes down to, are how these ads are impacting us as consumers and what the pros and cons are of having these advertisements so easily at our disposal.

A 2011 journal article, Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising, broke down some of the pros and cons to seeing all of these advertisements. To summarize, some of the benefits believed to come from such drug advertising are that they empower us as consumers and may encourage consumers to visit a healthcare provider, whether it be to talk about the drug or discuss similar symptoms being experienced so the problem can be resolved. On the other hand, advertisements can be annoying, misleading, can put stress on doctor-patient relationships and, some may argue, they emphasize a reliance on drugs rather than other healthy lifestyle behaviors such as consuming a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly.

Whether the FDA tightens regulations or not, it’s up to us to be informed consumers. It’s important that we question the necessity and effectiveness of these drugs being advertised and that we initiate conversation with our doctors more often; asking about these drugs, the prescriptions they have us on already, and to feel comfortable discussing any symptoms or issues that are making us feel any less like ourselves.

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