Vitamin E Vitamin E


Are Consumers Getting Any Wiser About Drug Ads?

A recent article I posted -- commentary from a noted expert -- urged American legislators to reconsider banning pharmaceutical companies from advertising their toxic products on the airwaves. A great piece in this morning's USA Today, one of my favorite newspapers, tackles this subject in greater detail.

One of the interesting "side effects" of this kind of advertising? Some parents find watching commercials with their kids uncomfortable, especially ads for such useless drugs as Levitra, Enzyte or Viagra that "treat" erectile dysfunction.

Yet, a 2003 Kaiser Family Foundation study found each dollar a drugmaker spends on consumer ads yields more than $4 in extra sales. And, those ads encourage patients to consult with their physicians about taking that newer, bluer and, supposedly, "better" drug that's far more expensive than the generic version they're currently taking and probably don't need. I believe that "early adopter" mentality about taking new drugs has much to do with why the current state of health care in this country is in such horrible disarray.

But greed -- the art of throwing money around to enough interested parties to fool or shove their products into people's lives whether they need them or not -- encourages far too many to look the other way. Especially when pharmaceutical companies spend more than $3 billion to advertise their toxic products to consumers. Unfortunately, that's a drop in the bucket compared to what these companies pay to seduce physicians. Try $18 billion on for size...

Folks, it is high time the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reevaluates their policy of allowing drugs to be advertised on TV. However, since pharmaceutical companies have spent more money lobbying Congress than other health care organizations, we may never see the FTC reverse its policy unless the public cries loud enough or 50,000 more people are killed.

Considering the recent Vioxx scandal, that end may be coming sooner than anyone expects.

USA Today February 15, 2005

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