Fellow health care blogger Robert Centor MD (of MedRants) published an op-ed in USA Today advocating that direct to consumer (DTC) advertisements for pharmaceuticals should be banned.
I do worry that DTC ads push people to get drugs for mild conditions, for which the drugs' benefits may not outweigh their harms, and push people to get expensive name-brand drugs when cheaper generic drugs may work just as well. (Many people with indigestion or GERD will do just as well with the little purple pill than with a generic or over-the-counter H2 blocker, or even simple antacids.)
I am also concerned that banning DTC ads does infringe on free speech. But as I have said before, I wonder why there has been no organized effort to develop counter-advertising, especially by government agencies and managed care organizations who proclaim their interests in cutting costs and improving health care?
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