Magazine article Drug Topics

DTC Advertising One Year Later

Magazine article Drug Topics

DTC Advertising One Year Later

Article excerpt

It has been almost a year since the government began allowing direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs with both the name of the drug and its indication promoted. Now the public knows that Claritin and Zyrtec are indicated for seasonal allergies. How has this seismic change affected everyone concerned?

Proponents of DTC advertising say that it's a positive trend since it empowers patients to make their own health-care decisions. But critics charge that it has had a very negative impact on quality and cost of health care.

The pharmacist is now confronted by "enlightened" patients who are more demanding about which medications they take and less receptive to the advice of their pharmacist.

Some critics such as David Grossman, an internist in Maplewood, N.J., reflect the concern of many pharmacists. "Some patients insist on a certain drug after seeing an ad but don't know the downside. It takes choice away from the physician. I've lost patients because I refused to prescribe what was in an ad," he said.

The pharmacist has been placed in an unenviable front-line position while the debate over DTC goes on. Patients are persuaded by TV ads, some doctors are prescribing what patients are demanding, and the R.Ph.s' views on drug selection are often ignored. This can lead to higher costs for the patient and much frustration on the part of the pharmacist.

The FDA, too, is concerned that DTC ads may lead to more overprescribing, misprescribing, and misuse of Rx drugs. …

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