Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Dose of Direct-to-Consumer Drug Ads Not What the Doctor Ordered

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Dose of Direct-to-Consumer Drug Ads Not What the Doctor Ordered

Article excerpt

The American Medical Association is assaulting one of our most cherished holiday traditions.

No, the white-jacketed cabal isn't targeting the sinfully decadent punch bowl brimming with bourbon-stoked egg nog; the heaping helping of buttered mashed potatoes slathered in a river of gravy; or, the pice de rsistance: the unwieldy hunk of Grandma's pumpkin pie buried under a tower of Reddi Wip.

Instead, the good doctors have their eyes on the sponsors of the omnipresent sporting events that whet the holiday appetites of fans everywhere.

At a meeting in Atlanta this month, the AMA came out in favor of banning direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices. AMA Board chair-elect Dr. Patrice A. Harris cited the role the slick, ubiquitous pitches "play in fueling escalating drug prices."

The AMA said drug makers' advertising budgets have increased 30 percent over the last two years to $4.5 billion, citing research by Kantar Media.

"Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate," Dr. Harris said in a Nov. 17 statement.

Many sports fans begin their typical holiday viewing regimen feeling fit as a fiddle.

But 12 hours later, after enduring cycle after cycle of pre-game, in-game and post-game analysis, washed down with beer, wings, pizza and chips, they are stunned at just how ill they, their families and their friends might be despite their active, healthy lifestyles.

They have been scared by Madison Avenue hucksters who spread the specter of toenail fungus, overactive bladder, erectile dysfunction, plaque psoriasis, circadian rhythm disorder, hepatitis C and depression. Not to mention the inability to produce tears when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger serves up another interception.

So when the man on the idiot box instructs, "Ask your doctor if Jublia is right for you," they're empowered to do something about nail fungus. Even if the 48-week treatment costs thousands of dollars and cures less than 20 percent of patients.

At least that's what Joe and Terry Graedon, hosts of The People's Pharmacy radio show, say on their website. …

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