Bad Medicine

Reading Mr. Lidsky’s blog entry this morning, I was reminded of something I read last weekend. It was one of Stephen King’s columns for Entertainment Weekly. And he wrote about something I always wondered about. Why are commercials for prescription drugs allowed on television? There is no logical reason for this, except to make the Pharmaceutical industry more money.

Patients shouldn’t make decisions about what medicine to take. Their doctors should. And they see enough advertisements in medical journals and by direct mailing. And television is overwhelmed by these commercials. I have seen three drug ads in two minutes during the evening news.

Mr. King wonders if the commercials shouldn’t be banned like cigarette ads. I completely agree. Why should the public be hypnotized into thinking some drug will fix their life instantly? Or be convinced they may have some disorder they do not, like Acid Reflux Disease or Social Anxiety Disorder? Why should people be frightened into needing the newest drug, rather than the cheaper generic or older iteration of that prescription that may not last 24 hours, but costs much less?

It seems to me this is something that has gotten out off hand. It is unethical. Is everyone really better off than ten years ago when such television advertisements were a rarity? I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of people taking prescription drugs they do not need was in the millions.KO