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Letter: Pharmaceutical ads drive up drug prices

Pharmaceutical ads drive up drug prices

Enough already. Daily we are bombarded with TV advertisements by giant pharmaceuticals promoting their brand-name drugs.

Typically one quarter of their ad time is taken up telling viewers what their drug can do for them and three quarters citing potential undesirable, sometimes dire, side effects. The typical punch line is: “Ask your doctor whether our drug is right for you.”

It is the same with their ads in periodicals. One page touts what the drug is for and three pages are taken up with its potential downsides.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually promoting their brand-name products to the public, which they recoup in the inflated pricing of their products. One wonders how those advertising expenditures compare to their actual development expenditures for new drugs when the generics begin to cut into the market for their established, overpriced products.

Doctors don’t need pressure from their patients to prescribe these drugs for them. Perhaps the IRS should deny drug companies a corporate tax deduction for these outrageous advertising expenditures, thereby discouraging them from promoting their products to the general public and instead motivating them to provide the pros and cons of their products directly to the doctors who need that vital information.

Maybe then we could actually afford those medicines. But then ours is a free-enterprise society, which leaves us at the mercy of the enterprising pharmaceuticals that are free to charge us outrageous prices for their products, which may or may not actually benefit us.

William J. Schuch

East Aurora