Tag Archives: Prompt 1

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.

Illness & Mortality

Making the best choice for a loved one because they’re aging or sick is hard. We have to look for the best places that our loved one can go for senior assisted care living or best place to take them when they’re sick. During this time, it is hard to find the best resources because death or sickness can be sudden sometimes.  If we do not know much about the many options we have, we might make a poor choice. Doing a bit of research before the time comes can be helpful. Being informed on many options is helpful when those times come in our way.

I found this web called Aging & Long Term Care of Eastern Washington. What I found most immediately helpful is that the website have a lot of common questions to click on if someone wants to know the answers. For instance, it has questions that many consumers would like to know. One of the questions it has there is “what kinds of services are available for seniors and people with disabilities?” In addition, there are other questions answered that many people have.

What lead to more questions than answers was about their medical insurance. When I clicked on where it said “medical insurance”, I was a bit confuse what SHIBA was. There was some information about SHIBA; however, I was not quite sure what SHIBA was as I have never heard of it. I had more questions about what exactly it was so I did a bit of research on my own. I found out a lot more information about this program once I searched. Other than having more questions about SHIBA from a first glance, I found this website somewhat useful. My suggestion to people would be to look somewhere else if the website was not useful or if it was useful but they just have more questions about the program. I suggest to do research if there are questions they want answered.

“Aging, disabled, Medicaid, applications, help, information, disabilities.” Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington, http://www.altcew.org/aging-disability-resources-senior-information-assistance/.


Long-term Care for Loved Ones

I discovered a website created by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services to be extremely helpful when looking for health care. Almost all the information someone would be looking for can be found here. It is a decently short one paged website with many links to different pages that are useful as well, providing extra information one is looking for. DSHS cuts straight to the point, with no extra’s that tend to confuse consumers. The links are provided so that if a certain facility sparks one’s interest, they can travel to the cite and learn more about it.

When I first entered this page, it clearly stated that people using state funds (Medicaid) to pay for their care need to be looking for facilities licensed by Washington state that accepts Medicaid payments. Under that is a list of long-term care state license facilities and non-state licensed facilities. DSHS describes more in detail nursing homes, adult family homes, assisted living facilities and the non-state licensed facilities which include, retirement communities/independent living and continuing care retirement facilities.

I would suggest this as a place to start for those who are looking at facilities to send their loved ones for extra care. This offers important information as well as the important links that lead to more extensive information. DSHS provides an exceptional place to start when beginning this research process for the elderly in your life. It is clear that not everything is provided, and more research will need to be conducted however, the information is true and pure as well as extremely helpful for families.

Finance Promt 1

The site playspent.org is a really good tool for explaining why it is so hard to maintain and save money working poor. I wish I had known about this resource when I was trying to explain to my mother why minimum wage works are not able to properly care for themselves finically. It is my firm belief that if you contribute to a society, in any job, you should be able to afford to live in that society and meet your basic needs.

The distribution of wealth in America is grossly skewed with the top 1% owning 40% of the nation’s wealth (Politizane, 2012).  An enlightening YouTube video looking at wealth inequality in America can be found here. Especially when the 2018 budget cuts huge amounts of funding from Medicare and Medicaid.

Higher education serves as another barrier to the poor. Degree earners typically have higher paying jobs but pursuing a degree is expensive in the US. Everyone should have access to higher education if that is their desire. Education should not be limited to the wealthy. The cost of tuition varies based on state residency; the average in-state resident tuition at a public university public is $9,650 and out-of-state students pay an average of $24,930 a year (College Data, 2017.)

As it stands now, one of the only ways for students to finance college is to take out student’s loans. The Obama administration created protections for students taking student loans, as well as increasing the Pell grant. We saw from our reading that in 2013, $28,400 was the average graduates owed banks from student loans. Having an amount like this hanging over your head, simply for getting an education is unacceptable.

I believe that policymakers should consider better funding at all education levels and the possibility of cheaper or free tuition for public universities. I know some schools in states like New York have granted free education for students with family incomes less than 100,000. There are rigid requirements around this funding, but I think it could be a step in the right direction to provide equal access to education.

As consumers, we should push for better education programs from elementary to high school and affordable or free options for higher education. The American education system is in a sad place right now. We should be investing in education rather than crippling people with debt.

Works Cited 

College Data. (2017). What’s the Price Tag for a College Education? Retrieved from https://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064

Politizan. (2012). Wealth Inequality in American [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM

(Finance )Prompt 1

The Fiduciary Rule is basically a rule that says financial advisers for retirement have to act in the best interest of their clients because according to the article, it says that it is currently legal for advisers to NOT act in the best interest of their clients because they are not required. So this rule says that they have to act in the best interest of their clients not theirs.

Both of these articles seem to come down on the same side. If you ask which article is better at understanding or explaining from a consumer’s point of view, I would have to say Public Interest Research Group’s tutorial on John Oliver’s Retirement Income episode and the Fiduciary Rule definitely explained it better. Why? Because the article had more details and explained in simpler ways that a consumer can understand; that’s what I think.

I feel that this article Public Interest Research Group’s tutorial on John Oliver’s Retirement Income episode and the Fiduciary Rule explains the material better because the other article was short and did not give much information about the topic. The other article just does not explain fiduciary rule that well in my opinion. Because with the John Oliver’s Retirement Income episode article, there are more information that talks a lot about more things that have to do fiduciary. For instance, it talked more about how a fiduciary person cannot accept compensation because that would basically result in conflicted interest.  According to the article, “they can steer you to make investments that benefit them but might not be the best choice for your retirement savings.” It also says that about 17 billions are unnecessary lost from every from retirement savings account because of our current system that we have; conflicted investment advice causes loss of money from savings account for retirement.

CP & R Prompt One

How well do you believe you are protected as a consumer in that area? What do you know and not know? What agency or law would probably be most relevant to learn something about? What’s most important to share with other consumers about this issue area and the consumer protection it appears we have or don’t have?

Safety recalls are very important, and as a consumer I would hope that when there is a significant safety issue with a product that the solution would be put in place as soon as possible.  After reading a few of the articles I both do and do not feel protected as a consumer. I feel protected in that the safety regulations are being put in place, but the length of time it takes to implement updated safety regulations or fixes to products is a bit concerning. There is also the issue that companies generally do the bare minimum when dealing with a safety recall. For example, in reading about the recall of Toyota cars, I like that the solution has been put forth, but its implementation is taking a long time to actually solve the issue. It seems like the idea of the fix is there, but it has not been executed in a timely manner. As a consumer I know that products can be recalled, nothing is perfect. I also know that companies are consistently working to make things safer for consumers. A relevant source for learner further about this matter would be the NHTSA as they issue motor vehicle safety laws to Congress. If I were to educate another consumer on this issue I would provide them details regarding safety regulations and recalls, refer them to look into the NHTSA and current updates to safety laws, and I would express to them how important it is to pay attention as a consumer as safety regulations are generally a bare minimum effort to keep a company from falling into legal trouble.

Early Life and Childhood

Prompt One: 

Parents are very vulnerable consumers. They want the best for their children and worry about their future. Companies and organizations feed on these fears, selling them ideas/products which are unneeded, do not work as intended and/or are downright harmful.

I believe that what parents want and what they often get, are different things. We have little to no regulation for DTC internet advertisements and companies can manipulate the truth and misrepresent information with very little liability. Today we have access to so much information thanks to the internet but only a small fraction of this is tested, verified and/or scientific.

When I was initially working through this material, I thought about the harmful ideas parents are sold by companies or groups regarding health products (perhaps it’s because I recently did a project on vaccination.)

Vaccination is a highly controversial consumer health item in the US. Many parents are choosing to opt out of childhood vaccination due to anxieties about vaccine safety, even though childhood vaccinations have been proven safe for the large majority through extensive testing.

A newborn is supposed to receive a Hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine 12 hours after birth. HBV is a contagious disease spread through blood and other bodily fluids. Infants are at high risk of infection and 90% of them who contract the initial disease will develop lifelong symptoms, often resulting in liver cancer and cirrhosis (CDC, 2016). The disease is preventable only with vaccination which is 95% effective in averting HBV (NCIRD, n.d.).

So, why would a parent, who wants the best for their child refuse this vaccine? Ideas such as “vaccines cause autism” or “they inject your children with toxic chemicals” are being ‘sold’ to parents based on misrepresented or false data. It’s clear that any parent worried about vaccinations is thinking about their child’s health and their goal is to protect them from possible harm. But they are getting their information from the wrong sources and making important health issues based on the unscientific information.

In this example, what the parent wants; protect their child from injury, and what they are getting: false information meant to instill fear, are very different.


Works Cited

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). The ABCs of Hepatitis. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/resources/professionals/pdfs/abctable.pd

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, and Prevention. The Pink Book-Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (pp. 149-174). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/hepb.pdf

Early Life Matters Prompt 1

So I read about childbirth, C-section, and preconception care. I think that new parents to be are very vulnerable to all the things in the market because most of them are not aware of what they actually need. They’re vulnerable because they are new to parenting; they might encounter something that they might not need or actually harmful for them and they’re not aware of the harm. What I really found interesting was this web called Preconception Health and Health Care. What this mainly talked about was how new parents can take care of themselves in order to prevent problems with new babies being born.

I think that most pre-parents and young parents would really like to know in order to make the best choices possible for themselves and their new babies is that they have to take care of themselves. They should make this a priority. Many parents to be are not aware of the things they might be doing that will be harmful for their babies. Some might think that it’s okay to do drugs because it won’t really affect their babies but that’s not true at all. Because what parents do, it also affect the unborn child very much. For instance, eating too little or too much or drug abuse will affect the baby. Also, pregnant women should watch out what they eat because what they eat might have some bad ingredients. Always take time to look at the food label and understand what you’re putting into your body. What they should know for sure is that their every action has an impact on the child. Just because the child is not physically in this world doesn’t mean the things they do does not affect it.


The Consumers Black Hole

Parents, especially new ones, often get caught up in all the excitement of welcoming a new tiny person into this world. They are a perfect victim for what I like to call, The Consumers Black Hole. This is something that not only expecting parents fall into, but likely everyone can say, at some point, they too were sucked in to what seemed like a screaming deal at the time. There are many different sub-populations that certain businesses and corporations sink their claws into. Their goal is to persuade people to consume, new parents happen to be one of them.

We are exposed to thousands of commercials and other propaganda out there that makes planning parents vulnerable to all sorts of items, services and other sorts of “stuff.” These companies advertising their merchandise are becoming more creative by the second.  Businesses and corporations are selling anything from the necessary diapers to the unimportant pacifier wipes, what? Johnson’s, a company all of us likely know and love, even sells a baby cologne. Isn’t that insane? It is more shocking to me that parents fall into these marketing traps.

New Zealand and The United States are the only two nations that allow direct-to-consumer drug advertising. These ads tend to overemphasize the benefits of the drugs so that the risks are lost in the crossfire. The over advertisement and information provided causes the consumers to be misled and confusing into purchasing products. It is easy to get caught up in something when the ads say it’s the next best thing and claims to fix all your problems. This can hit new parents especially hard. Babies are so delicate and fragile that a brand-new mom and dad would do anything they are told to make the perfect life for their precious baby. For example, they can easily be manipulated into believing that all babies need to have Johnson’s baby cologne, when this is very untrue.

Parents should be doing their research. It would be extremely beneficial to gain information from websites that are unbiased. Even moms and dads who have raised children before are good sources to figure out what things are necessities and what are not. This makes me nervous to have a child of my own. I know I often easily fall into the Consumers Black Hole, but with the right education beforehand I could easily pull myself out, and others can too.

CP & R Promt 1: What’s in the package?

Food labels are supposed to tell you what is in a product, but instead labels always seem to mention what it does not contain. This seems counterintuitive, as the main goal of a label is to tell you what is inside.

The FDA has a list of approved natural (things like wood chips count as a natural ingredient) and artificial chemicals. Frequently these are undertested, based on outdated research and/or have been exposed as harmful. For example:

Artificial Sweeteners: are tied to weight gain; the opposite of what they are marked for. Aspartame is particularly controversial. Though there are mixed opinions on its safety, some evidence suggests that aspartame is a neurotoxin and leads to negative neurobehavior effects (Lindseth, 2014). It is also the most common artificial sweetener.

Trans Fats: the evidence that trans-fat caused to increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Higher levels of these contribute to heart disease and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Also linked to cancer, diabetes, immune dysfunction and reproductive problems.

Those are approved substances by the FDA. The regulation is worse when looking at food additives, which do not even need to be labeled. GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) essentially lets food companies set their own standards for “safe” without outside regulation or influence. There has been a recent trend demanding for more transparency in the food industry. People have slowly started to pay more attention to certain ingredients (which is great!) This has caused the food industry to be more creative with “clean labeling” practices. This basically means removing known bad additives and replacing them with substitutes which sound better. For example, antioxidants (E300-21) such as butylhydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) which are used to improve shelf life have been relabeled by some brands as “rosemary extract” (Blythman, 2015)

The FDA needs to conduct its own testing on these chemicals and additives; it should do this for everything it regulates. Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 77% of respondents believed that GRAS were evaluated by the FDA and thought to be safe. 66% believed that the FDA monitors GRAS safety and use (Butler & Kelber, 2016). Neither is the case. I can’t get past the fact that additives are not required to be labeled, let alone untested by the FDA.  I can’t believe ingredients which are known to cause disease are still allowed in our food. I believe everything added to a food item, should be required to be labeled. A consumer cannot make an informed choice with only part of the information available.


Works Cited

Blythman, J. (2015). Inside the food industry: the surprising truth about what you eat. Retrieved from m https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/feb/21/a-feast-of-engineering-whats-really-in-your-food

Lindseth, G., N. Coolahan, S., E. Petros, T., V. Lindseth, P., D. (2014). Neurobehavior effects of aspartame consumption. Research in Nursing & Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24700203

Butler, D., Kelber, K. (2016). Consumers Union: New FDA Rule on GRAS Unacceptable, Fails Consumers. Retrieved from http://consumersunion.org/news/consumers-union-new-fda-rule-on-gras-unacceptable-fails-consumers/