What’s the problem with DTC ads you ask?? Well, let start off with some basic info. DTC stands for direct-to-consumer advertising. What does this mean? It means that pharmaceutical companies can advertise their product to consumers, rather than the doctors. Why would this be a problem? Well, the biggest problem to me is, these companies are giving all this information about a product that the innocent consumer, like you or me, would have no idea what they are saying. They can talk all this medical jargon and make this product out to be so great, when it reality it’s saying something like “take this and hopefully you don’t develop stomach ulcers” (adding some dramatic effect). This then leads to the next problem, patients (consumers) are then rushing out to their doctor, thinking that they have found a cure for their medical problem and are offering this solution to their doctor. This is great because the patient is being proactive about their health and are offering solutions, but the doctors are not stopping and talking to their patient about the repercussions of this medicine and are just willingly giving the medication. Why would a doctor do that? Well, it could be because the patient is asking for a suitable medication, but the medication they are specifically asking for is significantly more expensive than the generic that is available too. This gets more money into the pocket of the doctor and the pharmaceutical company. Cha-ching! Which then leads to the last point, while the conversations are being skipped, so is the learning. Patients are happily given the medication believing everything they just heard on the television ad. This creates many problems because while the patient is expecting to be “cured” or feel better, the exact opposite could be occurring. They believe the ad has given straight truth, when in reality they got half the truth. Doctors aren’t telling patients the actual facts, and now patients are left confused. This isn’t fair to the poor patient just hoping to find a solution to their medical problem. Just as a fun fact too, the USA and New Zealand are the ONLY countries to allow DTC ads.. that right there is another problem within itself.
So, how could we fix this issue? Do away with these ads! Medication is not up to the patient to decide. Doctors should be doing their due diligence and going to their patients with solutions and coming up with options together. This creates a more conversation between patients and doctors and in return makes a better environment for the doctor-patient relationship. Now, I’m not saying that patients shouldn’t/don’t have the right to come up with their own plan for their medical plan. But what I am saying is, they have the right to make an informed decision about the type of medicine that they are taking and with them discovering and deciding in the right place (ie doctors office) they are going to receive the most accurate medical options and be able to decide with the doctor. This would do away with people’s hopes of being “fixed”. This means, seeing more ads in the doctors office than on tv. Teaching doctors to give out pamphlets with medicine advice and being willing to discuss. This would also include encouragement for patients to go to doctors and get the right info about medicine rather than believing everything they see.