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Letter: We need to rein in ads for prescription drugs

We need to rein in ads for prescription drugs

Am I the only person bothered by incessant advertising for prescription drugs on TV? Ads for over-the-counter painkillers and tummy tenders are arguably appropriate because purchasers can usually choose what’s best for them (if they read the directions carefully). But if the drug requires a prescription, there usually is a good reason. Then the determination of what and how much to use must be made by a doctor.

TV ads that expect patients to tell their doctor to use “Drug A” because the manufacturer says it is the very best for them strike me as unethical. They play on patient fears and misery with glowing promises, knowing full well that the patient is almost never capable of sorting out specific drug pros and cons. It’s like an airline advising passengers to tell the pilot how to fly.

The TV industry no longer advertises such things as cigarettes and liquor as a matter of public health. Maybe we should rein in TV advertising of prescription drugs to the general public so that our highly trained and licensed health providers can be free to follow best practices rather than be pressured by emotional, uninformed patients. As an added benefit, the price might drop a bit, as well.

Andrew R. Graham


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