Tag Archives: Prompt One

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


Pharmaceutical Prompt One

Before reading this, I had no idea what DTC adds were. I am aware of the ads on television about certain medications but I had no idea what they were called and never really paid any attention to these ads. After reading these slides I have come up with some points to summarize this advertising practice and why this practice may need a change.

Firstly, the FDA does not require companies to provide an exhaustive and detailed list of side effects in their infomercials. This leaves out certain side effects that may be harmful to the consumer depending on their present medical status and their way of living. Hopefully, if these medications are prescription only medications, then the prescribing doctor would look at the patients’ medical history before prescribing a drug that may have harmful side effects. However, the patient may be resistant to go on other drugs that they have not heard of due to fear of the unknown, so they may only want to take a drug that they have seen in an infomercial. The FDA also reports in a survey that many physicians felt pressure to prescribe a DTC ad drug when a patient brought it up. Secondly, a change for the DTC advertising took place in 2008, when the pharmaceutical industry pledged to not allow actors to play doctors and to make sure that anyone endorsing their product had actually used their product. This does pose a slight problem in that just because someone is endorsing a product does not mean that it worked for them. They are required to have had to try the product, but their opinion on it may be swayed by the amount of money offered to endorse the product. Lastly, DTC ads are putting more prescription drugs and companies under criticism. DTC has reportedly increased demand, but it has also made companies and their products open to criticism that they are trying to maximize profits rather than actually help consumers. This poses a problem when law firms put on commercials stating that a certain prescription drug may cause a serious illness and that the consumer should sue the prescribing doctor and the company who produced the drug. These kinds of ads make consumers wary of companies and drugs and may deter them from getting the help that they need. While one kind of drug may not have worked for one person, it may work for a different person.

An acceptable public health solution is to require companies to provide and exhaustive and detailed list of the side effects to consumers and to only allow endorsements from patients with which the drug has succeeded in doing its job. For providing a list of side effects, the FDA needs to change its requirement back to that of the 1980’s when DTC was first legalized. As for real endorsements, that is slightly trickier as patient confidentiality and HIPPA laws come into play. Patients would have to reach out to pharmaceutical companies themselves to tell the companies if the product worked for them, and from there on the company could ask the patient to publicly endorse their drug.

Illness and Morality Prompt One

As I plan to live in Washington State when I am of the age that this information will be pertinent to me, I have decided to look at the provided Washington agency’s website. Looking at this with the eyes of an uninformed consumer was difficult as I do believe that most consumers would do extensive research before committing their loved ones to a long-term care facility. However, if this was the first place the consumer started looking, I could see how this could be both helpful and confusing.

Somethings that were immediately helpful were the statement that Adult Protective Services will be checking for signs of abuse as there have been many stories reporting abuse of the elderly in long-term care facilities. Another helpful thing was that there was a section for the deaf and hard of hearing. Many elderly people have a hearing problem, and many of them would need additional assistance in everyday life, it is good to know that that is an option. Some less helpful things were the lack of a listed cost, if there was a minimum amount of time that someone had to stay in the facility, and what the guidelines and rules are as far as visitation goes. However, this is more a lack of information rather than provided confusing information. I would suggest that consumers look elsewhere for more information. For instance, sometimes other consumers can be extremely helpful, so looking somewhere like Yelp for some reviews would be possibly be helpful in answering some questions. Consumers should also call any long-term care facility they are considering for their loved ones and ask any lingering questions, and visit any facility that they are seriously considering. Doing this would allow the consumer to make a better-informed decision and allow their loved ones to live a happier life in an assisted living community.

Food Matters Prompt One

The three resources that I found most enlightening from the Food Matters page were “The Whiskey Boom’s Dirty Little Secret”, “Healthy Eating Index”, and “The Snackification of Everything”. From the first article, something new to me is that most whiskey companies do not make what they bottle. If the label says “bottled by [name of company]” or “produced by [name of company]” then the company put the whiskey in the bottle after the whiskey was produced elsewhere. Most likely, the whiskey was “actually made at a massive plant in southern Indiana, where each barrel holds about 63 gallons of aging bourbon,” (Reid, 2014). New information that I learned from the second article is that not all people have access to the same foods. For instance, a person living in Nebraska may not have as much access to fresh fish or sushi as a person living in Seattle. This is mainly due to socioeconomic factors and living location. In order to apply this to real life, the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) came up with a scoring system called “The Healthy Eating Index” to rank foods and meals. Something new I learned from the third article listed above is the newfound prevalence of snacking. The article says that “only 10% of Americans snacked three or more times a day in the late 1970’s, the figure had risen to 56% in 2010” (Akst, 2014). As I am currently in several Nutrition classes, I am very aware of the poor eating habits of Americans, however, I was not aware that many of these habits can be linked to snacking. This article goes on to say that snacking perhaps became so popular because the public likes the idea of a noncommittal relationship with food the way that they like the idea of a noncommittal relationship in other aspects of life.

None of this information is particularly concerning health wise other than the information on snacking. Mostly, these articles were very informative and made me feel as though I could make better decisions in the future. I would gladly tell me friends not to buy the more expensive whiskey and bourbon as it is basically the same as the cheaper stuff, and perhaps I would enjoy a debate over the idea of snacking and its relation to my generations favoritism of brevity over longevity. However, as I have just turned 20, I do not see myself having kids for a while, once I do I am sure I will find the Healthy Eating Index helpful. The one policy decision impacting people’s choices and health outcomes is the Healthy Eating Index. I am interested in Nutrition, and the fact that there is a way to measure the nutritional value of the foods that kids are ingesting is very important especially with the number of obese children on the rise. If people were less informed than me about these topics, they may be surprised. Some of my friends who enjoy expensive whiskey and bourbon may feel cheated as they have been paying more for the same quality of their favorite alcohol. Those with kids, especially overweight kids, may feel the need to research more on the Healthy Eating Index to best help their child. And those who are prone to snacking or to replacing meals with snack food may be interested in the snacking culture and may enjoy reading how it applies to American culture now.


Akst, D. (2014, December 19). The Snackification of Everything. Retrieved November 07, 2017, from http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-akst-snacks-20141221-story.html

NCCOR. (n.d.). Retrieved November 07, 2017, from http://www.nccor.org/projects/hei/

Reid, C. (2014, December 31). The Whiskey Boom’s Dirty Little Secret. Retrieved November 07, 2017, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-whiskey-booms-dirty-little-secret/

Health Care: Prompt One

One of the most important aspects of the ACA is the 10 essential health care benefits. This added specific criteria of what insurance must cover in their policies.What are the 10-essential benefits insurance must cover? Healthcare.gov (2017) lists them as:

  1. Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital
  2. Emergency services
  3. Hospitalization
  4. Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care
  5. Mental health and substance use disorder services
  6. Prescription drugs
  7. Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)
  8. Laboratory services
  9. Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  10. Pediatric services, including oral and vision care (but adult dental and vision coverage aren’t essential health benefits)

I feel like a lot of people don’t really understand how health insurance works (or why companies would not want to cover these 10 things); I had no idea before I took an introduction to public health policy. To sum up private health insurance (very basically): all eligible individuals are placed into a risk pool and each one pays a monthly premium to spread the risk/cost around. These monthly payments pay will cover the costs for health services for sick or injured individuals in the pool.

For example: If you have a risk pool of 100 people and each person pays $100 per month, insurance has $10,000-dollar revenue. But let’s say 10 people in the pool get sick and their care ends up being $15,000 that month, the insurance then is at a loss of $5,000. Insurance is a business and therefore the goal is to make a profit. The company makes more money when their risk pools are comprised of healthy individuals.  This is why insurers used to deny coverage or charge more to individuals with pre-existing conditions.

A preexisting condition is “a health problem you had before the date that new coverage starts” (HHS, 2017). Things like cancer, HIV, pregnancy, Alzheimer’s, acne, mental illness, domestic violence and rape victims, etc. fall into this category. When I found out that people could be denied coverage (and the things which counted as a pre-existing condition) I was stunned. It seemed so wrong and unethical. How could we as a nation leave so many people exposed to huge finical and health risks? People who were already incredibly vulnerable.

The 10 essential health care benefits also require maternity care coverage. Prior to the ACA very few women had maternity coverage. An uncomplicated birth could cost already insured women $10,000 and uninsured women $30,000 (THA 2013). Some Republican politicians do not think men should have to pay for prenatal care, as ‘a man has never delivered a baby’ (Woodall, 2017). I learned in my policy class that every dollar spent in family planning has a 400% return. How is it not in our best interest (morally and economically) to provide this coverage?

Women’s health care protections are especially in danger; just this Friday some protections on birth control coverage were removed from health insurance policies. This allows a company or non-profit to remove contraceptives from their coverage due to religious or moral objections (Kodjak, 2017).

There is an ongoing debate about healthcare in the US. The current administration wants to ‘replace and repeal’ the ACA. The 10 essential health care benefits are in danger, all the proposed replacements have severely weakened or removed them. The US is one of the only developed countries who does not have universal health coverage. These policies largely stem from the belief that healthcare is a privilege, not a right.


Works Cited

Kodjak, A., (2017). Trump Guts Requirement that Employer Health Plans Pay for Birth Control. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/10/06/555970210/trump-ends-requirement-that-employer-health-plans-pay-for-birth-control

Healthcare.gov. (2017). What Marketplace health insurance plans cover. Retrieved from https://www.healthcare.gov/coverage/what-marketplace-plans-cover/

Health and Human Services. (2017). Pre-existing conditions. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/about-the-aca/pre-existing-conditions/index.html

Woodall, C., (2017) GOP Congressman asks why men should pay for prenatal care. Retrieved from http://www.pennlive.com/news/2017/03/gop_congressman_asks_why_men_s.html

Truven Health Analytics. (2013). The Cost of Having a Baby in the United States. Retrieved from http://transform.childbirthconnection.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Cost-of-Having-a-Baby1.pdf