Tag Archives: pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical Industry – Prompt 1

DTC ads are used in New Zealand and the United States. Direct-to-consumer advertising is used to inform patients who are already suffering from disease and raises awareness of treatment options. While DTC ads intend to serve a great purpose, the reliability and credibility of these ads is questionable. These ads are driven to influence choice rather than inform patients. Therefore, these ads relay information that pushes patients to favor the use of these drugs. For example, patients see advertisements on television regarding psoriasis and a treatable medicine for it. A suffering patient may then go to their doctor and deliberately ask for that medicine by name. When this happens these patients aren’t considering the risk factors that may come with the drug because of the claims suggested by the DTC ad. All of which is something I think needs to change. When I sometimes hear these ads I do engage, as I am a patient suffering from psoriasis. However, I am not influenced by my decision to medicate in order to “cure” it. DTC ads target the vulnerable and ill informed. I feel that this practice should be modified because it is false advertising. As for coming up with an acceptable public health solution I think we all play a part. Doctors should further inform these suffering patients, patients should acquire information about the drug before jumping the gun, drug or pharmaceutical companies should be focused on helping suffering individuals not profiting on them and society as a whole needs to be better about producing advertisements that don’t speak to its individuals as vulnerable consumers.

Advertisements

Peer Review

For my peer review I decided to review “Pharma Prompt 1” by jdie4. From reading this contribution I learned that drug companies hire actors to act like doctors to try to convince potential customers through direct-to-consumer ads that the drugs are endorsed by doctors. Due to these drug advertisements, many consumers will ask for the drug by name and doctors are more likely to prescribe it to them because it was explicitly asked for, rather than just buy the generic drug that may work better. These ads also cause some people to self-diagnose their problems based on the symptoms the drug commercial lists off. People should not be doing this based on commercials, they should go to their doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

It would be good for a person with health problems looking for a drug to solve the problem so that they realize that they should not listen to those ads. Instead, they should talk to their doctor rather than basing themselves off of information provided by the drug commercial that has no strict guidelines for what exactly is to be included in the commercial, making the commercials misleading.

The strongest parts of this contribution are the numbered talking points, making the information presented easy to find and straightforward, the quote cited from an article that helps back up the argument being made, and the call to action in the last paragraph as to what should be done over the drug advertisements. The call to action says, “have actual medical doctors endorse the drugs…Doctors should also be encouraged to inform their patients who come asking for these big-name drugs about alternatives and generics.”

The weakest part of this contribution is that there are no citations as to where the information talked about in the prompt was from. What is the article that was being discussed?

The contribution is straightforward and jdie4 makes it an easy read. I did not need to read it several times to understand what was being discussed and there were no typos or grammar/punctuation errors.

On a scale of 1 to 3, where 1 is the lowest possible and 4 is the highest possible, I rate this contribution a 3 because although the article was very good, it was not cited. I know that jdie4 wrote about direct to consumer ads, but not where the information discussed is from.

Pharma Prompt 1

Direct to Consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical advertising is a terrible practice. The US and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that allow DTC drug ads. The average consumer, in my opinion, does not have the training or medical knowledge to understand the risks associated with various medications. Doctors go through 8 years of school and long residency positions to safely treat patients.

DTC ads are overseen by the FDA. The drug must be FDA approved to treat the condition and it must discuss the risks along with the benefits. TV ads only need to include “most important” risks if they provide information on how to obtain more information. Interestingly, a study recently released, found that the perception of risk becomes diluted with a lengthy side effect list. In the experiment, the group who heard only major side effects rated the drug’s risk higher than those who heard the full list. I think that our high exposure to DTC advertisements consumers are used to hearing numerous side-effects. Since many side-effects are expected, burying major symptoms with long lists of minor ones makes them have less impact. This study proves to me that drug information is simply too complicated to properly convey in the span of a short advertisement.

Consumers are more likely to ask for brand-name drugs after seeing an advertisement on TV. The pharmaceutical industry knows this and today spends 5.2 billion dollars on DTC ads, a 60% increase from 4 years ago. These advertisements drive up the price of prescriptions and make it costlier for the consumer. Dr. Harris, the American Medical Association’ (AMA) Immediate Past Chair has said: “Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.” Supporters of DTC drug advertisements say that the commercials make people aware of diseases and the treatment options available. But I do not think these commercials are meant to inform, they are meant to sell a product. The AMA also listed a study found that when medications were marketed directly to the consumer they saw an increase in the price of 34.2%.

To make things worse the pharmaceutical industry is pushing for more freedom in their advertisement practices so they can market drugs for off-label uses. This would mean these drugs would not need to be reviewed by the FDA and would forgo a lot of testing. According to the LA Times, a study found that patients using off-label drugs that lacked proper testing, were 54% more likely to have bad side effects. This included allergic reaction, respiratory complications and/or gastrointestinal complications.

I believe that DTC pharmaceutical ads are inappropriate for the everyday consumer, but I doubt they will be going away anytime soon. One possible option would be having the advertisements focus more on informing consumers about the disease than selling the product. Instead of marketing the drug, a company could sponsor PSA’s regarding the ailment. Another option that the AMA has put forward is to help control drug prices. The policy would require the cost of the medication to be listed in the advertisement. This would create transparency in our drug prices and help control the high costs of medications, which often spike for no reason.

Glossary Building Post # 5

Glossary Terms:

  • Ghost Writing
  • Drug Marketing
  • Unapproved drugs

When a consumer needs consultation on a health matter then they are likely to go to their doctor who will likely prescribe the consumer a pharmaceutical to solve their health matter. Consumers ae meant to trust their doctors, but what many consumers do not know is that doctors can be paid to prescribe or promote certain medications. This practice is known as drug marketing. Drug marketing is when drug companies provide perks to doctors such as free food, pay bonuses, and other such incentives to promote doctors to prescribe certain drugs. Drug companies will spend more on marketing than anything else to help promote drug sales. Consumers should be aware of drug marketing and look into drugs before simply agreeing to take them. Consumers should also investigate if their doctor is receiving incentives from drug companies to promote certain pharmaceuticals. Ghost writing is another issue that consumers should be aware of. Medical ghost writers assist physicians and scientists in preparing articles for medical journals. Ghost writers are beneficial in helping busy researchers get articles done in a timely manner allowing the researchers to get back to experimenting quicker. The issue with this practice is that often times drug facts are not always truthful, bad effects can be glossed over or phrased to make them look like they are miniscule or unrelated to the drug at all. Consumers should pay attention to drug details and look closely into effects tied in with pharmaceuticals before taking them. Unapproved drugs have also become an issue that consumers should be aware of. The FDA is meant to regulate drugs by approving the ones that are safe and effective for consumers, but not all marketed over the counter drugs have received FDA approval. This could pose a serious health concern that consumers should know of. Consumers should always check that what they are being prescribed or taking FDA approved pharmaceutical products to ensure that what they are taking is actually safe.

 

Pharmaceutical Industry Prompt 2

When I clicked on the website, it took me to a basic introduction section. The information of the site that is most relevant and consumer friendly to me is the section where it talks about introduction part,  Product Claim Advertisements, and Prescription Drug Advertising: Questions to Ask Yourself.

Why? Because I think that to me, this is consumer friendly. For the introduction part, it gives general information about the site and helps consumer searching through this web understand the purpose of the site.  Basics of Drug Ads section of the site was also most relevant and consumer friendly because it is very clear and understandable information to consumer. The last section that I found most relevant and consumer friendly was the part where it have questions to ask yourself which is very consumer friendly. For instance, it makes people think about what drugs they’re taking and how it affects them. I think that consumers might still be at risk is because not everything ( drugs ) is approved by the FDA. Many people are selling drugs that are not effectively safe; selling these drugs illegally leads consumers to be at risk from purchasing drugs that are not safe and aren’t approved.

 

Pharmaceutical Industry Prompt One

Direct to consumer (DTC) ads are pharmaceutical drug advertisements aimed at consumers rather than doctors, pharmacists and other health care professionals. The United States is one of only two countries in the world that allows this type of advertisement. DTC ads are targeted towards vulnerable consumers to promote the sale of prescription drugs. Most consumers have been exposed to these types of advertisements when watching television. The ads are often portrayed in a way that catches attention, highlights the benefits, and quickly glosses over any negative effects. Advertisers will often lie or gloss over unappealing details to get the attention of the subcategory the product is aimed too. This type of advertising puts consumers at risk as they will often see these types of ads, believe this is something that could assist them, and go to their doctor to request it without actually looking into the product. Consumers should be aware of DTC ads and should research the side effects and risks before requesting the drug. Direct to consumer ads also revolve around money, their main goal is to advertise their product to sell it to consumers. Drug companies will often try to curry favor with doctors to get them to prescribe their product. Many DTC ads will have the phrase, “talk to your doctor to see if this product is right for you”. Doctors who partner with drug companies receive bonuses and perks for prescribing these drugs to their patients and are thus more likely to comply with requests for these drugs. DTC ads are something that should be discontinued or a least have stricter rules to abide by to protect vulnerable consumers. The DTC ads might promote profits for pharmaceutical companies, but it puts consumers and doctors at risk as consumers may be prescribed drugs that end up causing them more harm than good.

Pharmaceutical Industry

Prompt 2

There are three links I find relevant on the FDA website about DTC prescription drug advertisement:

  1. Background on Drug Advertisement
  2. Basics of Drug Ads
  3. Sample Prescription Drug Advertisement

The Background on Drug Advertisement is important and consumer friendly because it goes over the FDA’s purpose

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protects public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of a wide range of products, including human prescription drugs. We also advance public health by helping people get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines appropriately and improve their health.

which I believe is reassuring to consumers. This link also goes over the FDA overseeing advertisement on drugs to make sure that the ads are not misleading. At the very end of this section it is clarified that this website is not to expose ads that may potentially violate laws but rather give an explanation of ideas and concepts related to drug advertising.

The Basics of Drug Ads section explains the difference between over-the-counter and prescription only drugs. This section also goes over the different forms of advertisements and what is included and not in the advertisement, for instance, drug name rather than drug use.

The Sample Prescription Drug Advertisement section is very consumer friendly in that, it provides three different examples of correct and incorrect advertisements:

  1. Product Claim Ad: Names a drug and explains the conditions it treats.
  2. Reminder Ad: Only gives drug’s name but not use.
  3. Help-Seeking Ad: Explains a disease/condition but doesn’t make any recommendations on which drugs to take.

It is important for the consumer to know the difference between these advertisements and what they look like in order to be informed.

From the readings and pharma slides, consumers might still be at risk because today more people are getting exposed through advertisements and becoming interested in DTC prescription drugs. Now they also have a choice between generic and original – price difference – and ‘me too’ drugs which are similar to existing generic drugs with little to no additional benefits.

 

Sources

Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (n.d.). Prescription Drug Advertising – Sample

Prescription Drug Advertisements. Retrieved November 21, 2017, from

https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/PrescriptionDrugAdvertising/ucm168421.htm

Pharma Slides

Glossary Building 5

There is a lot of confusing terminology out there for consumers, especially when that terminology is found in drug advertisements on TV, newspapers, magazines, etc. Besides being confusing, the advertisements tend to throw a lot of information at you. Whether it is a voice over with someone quickly going through some of the major side effects that make you wonder if the benefits are really worth all of those risks or the small print at the bottom that is never really legible.

It is important to be an informed consumer and to have the knowledge to know if we are being mislead or not. At the bottom I have terminology that may crop up when listening to an ad and terminology of things that are required that the drug advertisements have. This way, you as a potential consumer may know what type of drug advertisement is being shown or if it really does include the requirements so that it is shown on air so as to know if you are being mislead or if information is being kept from you.

  • Product Claim Advertisement: Must include the name of the drug, its risks and benefits, and at least one FDA approved use of the drug. May also include other sources as to where you could get more information the drug.
  • Help Seeking Advertisement: Describes a disease or condition, but doesn’t recommend a drug treatment. Instead, they recommend you talk to your doctor or provides a drug company’s name and phone number. They are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, but not the FDA because they are not usually considered drug ads.
  • Major Statement: Presentation of a drug’s biggest risks that have to be spoken on TV or radio.
  • Adequate Provision: “An alternative way for drug companies to provide risk information about a drug in a broadcast ad…The law allows broadcast ads to include only the most important risk information if the ads tell viewers or listeners how to get the full FDA-approved prescribing information” (Center for Drug Evaluation and Research).

References:

Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (n.d.). Prescription Drug Advertising – Prescription Drug Advertising: Questions to Ask Yourself. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/PrescriptionDrugAdvertising/ucm071915.htm

Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (n.d.). Prescription Drug Advertising – Drug Advertising: A Glossary of Terms. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/PrescriptionDrugAdvertising/ucm072025.htm#M

Pharmaceutical Industry: Prompt 2

When clicking on the link to the Food and Drug Administration website, it immediately takes me to the introductory page of the FDA site called, “Background on Drug Advertising.” On the left hand side there are links that take you to other pages, such as: a glossary of terms, questions you should ask yourself as a consumer when watching drug advertisements, and even a sample of correctly and incorrectly made drug advertisements. These are helpful to consumers because it arms people with the knowledge to identify if a drug advertisement is misleading or not. The site does a good job of putting their information under headings that make it easy to find information that somebody may be looking for, making the FDA website user friendly for consumers.

Specifically, what consumers may find to be the most beneficial on the website is the description of the requirements that different types of drug advertisements must include in their ads. Ads like those of product claim advertisement must include, what the drug is, its major risks, and “at least one FDA approved use for the drug.” among others. People have a right to know these things before deciding to take a product.

However, consumers may still be at risk because the advertisements are not required to name all of the side effects a drug may have, just some of them. Instead, companies may choose to tell consumers where else they can find more information on their drug. There is no requirement as to where that could be. The FDA only has suggestions as to where the company could put more information, like a website, providing a toll free number, or a printed ad in a magazine. These things should be required, not suggested. Also, not all types of advertisements are required to list their side effects, like Reminder and Help-Seeking Advertisements because they don’t describe what the drug does, even if it alludes to it. Despite not listing its uses consumers may still be at risk because a person may take the drug without knowing if it is really helpful or not. It may end up harming them instead. Especially if they don’t know if that drug may clash with another drug the consumer is taking or if it really will be beneficial to the condition the consumer has.

References:

Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (n.d.). Prescription Drug Advertising – Prescription Drug Advertising: Questions to Ask Yourself. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/PrescriptionDrugAdvertising/ucm071915.htm

 

The Danger of DTC Ads

DTC ads are direct-to-consumer advertisements. This means that these ads are strictly directed to the consumers that will likely be purchasing whatever is being marketed out to the public. Unfortunately, the United States is one of the TWO countries that allow this practice to be legal. New Zealand also allows DTC ads on television and in print. I think it is very clear that we should be thinking about new laws to be put in place for stricter regulations regarding these ads.

Advertisements will often lie about small details to get the attention of specific subpopulations to get them to purchase what is being advertised. An example of this is a TV commercial introduced a well-respected doctor who takes an anti-cholesterol drug called Lipitor. He claims that this drug helps to keep his heart healthy so that he could be active to participate in the things he enjoys, such as rowing a boat (much like the one in the commercial). It turns out, he was not a doctor and could not prescribe any medications legally, he also never actually rowed the boat himself in the commercial (Direct-to-consumer, 2009). Ads on television and in print must have a summary as well as a list of side effects. TV ads can legally include only the most important risks, as long as they provide how consumers can get more information. A lot of important things regarding these drugs are allowed to be left out of advertisements. This is so that consumers will go to their doctors believing they should be prescribed this specific drug without doing any research on it. If all the best data is provided to you in an ad you are not likely going to investigate more about it.

Direct to consumer advertisements are all about money and creating a large profit margin for drug companies. This industry spent almost $5 billion in the last year alone (Direct-to-consumer, 2009). The article Direct-to-consumer Advertising Under Fire claims that, “Surveys carried out in New Zealand and in the USA show that when a patient asks for a specific drug by name they receive it more often than not” (Direct-to-consumer, 2009). This clearly demonstrates further that this industry cares only about money and making a profit. In the year 2000, the industry made a revenue of $2.6 billion in sales. There was a study in 1999 which discovered that after seeing a DTC ad, one out of three people asked about a drug and one out of five asked for a prescription to a drug (Pearson, 2015-2016). It is a huge problem knowing that the main drive for DTC ads are to bring in money regardless of what happens to the health of the consumers.

We know that these ads convince consumers they need specific drugs and causes them to pressure their doctors into prescribing it to them. There is a huge fear that, “advertising drugs directly to consumers could be harmful. Both the drug companies and the doctors worry that even though consumers can’t really evaluate whether or not a drug is appropriate, they might become convinced by an ad” (Spiegel, 2009). It is extremely important to realize that even doctors are fearing for the health of consumers yet also feel pressured the prescribe them with specific drugs they request. Consumers are getting their information from a 60 second commercial that only offers the best things about the drug. These DTC ads are ruining doctor patient relationships and taking the control away from doctors to provide what they believe the be an appropriate prescription. This is something very critical to think about. The health of consumers should come first rather than money. Money is the most important thing for many parts of our government regulations, which needs to change as soon as possible.

With all this information, I think it would be very reasonable to approach the government and ask for this law to be reversed and terminated. It is also a very strange thing that the United States is one of the only two countries that allow DTC ads. Although these bring in a large amount of money for the pharmaceutical industry, I think it puts more stress on the health of consumers as well as the practice of doctors. If we continue down this road, we could be looking at more long term health effects and prescription drug addiction because these ads cause consumers to believe they are the only option for them. Reversing the legality of DTC ads or putting stricter regulations on them is extremely important for the health of our nation.

Works Cited

Direct-to-consumer advertising under fire. (2009, August). Retrieved November 20, 2017, from http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/8/09-040809/en/

Pearson, R. (2015-2016). Pharmaceutical Industry & Consumers. Lecture.

Spiegel, A. (2009, October 13). Selling Sickness: How Drug Ads Changed Health Care. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113675737#mainContent