The Dark Side of Drug Advertising

Many doctors believe that the recent sharp increase in drug advertising has altered the doctor-patient relationship for the worse.

From the article:

Like many doctors, Ron Ben-Ari thinks ads on TV for prescription drugs frequently go too far in touting a particular pill’s benefits without adequately presenting the risks.

But Ben-Ari, who has a practice at USC’s Health Sciences Campus in East L.A., accepts that the ads have fundamentally altered the doctor-patient relationship. He’s found that it can be fruitless to try to talk a patient out of seeking some name-brand medication, even when a cheaper alternative is available.

“If it’s an appropriate medicine for the person, I’d probably prescribe it,” said Ben-Ari, who also teaches at County-USC Medical Center. “We’re in an era of information. We have to evolve with it.”

This highlights the fact that a little information can be a dangerous thing, since a little information is often incomplete information. If patients come into a doctor’s office wanting a certain drug because they’re aware of cherry-picked facts gleaned from ads designed to put a drug in the best light, and refuse to be talked out of it, then their health will obviously suffer.

It’s good for patients to be informed about drugs even before they walk into a doctor’s office, but that information needs to come from reliable sources. If a drug looks good to you based on what you see in an advertisement, it’s a wise idea to do some independent research and ask your doctor’s opinion before becoming set on it.

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