Monday, March 31, 2008

Drug Pushers

I used to be in favor of allowing drug companies the right to directly advertise their products to consumers. However, the more time that goes by, the more I realize the misguided ideology of this line of thinking. History now bares witness to the facts that reveal several truths about this matter.

Pharmaceutical companies do not do nearly the research that they need to in order to determine the effectiveness of their drugs before they start selling them to customers. Also, when such research is not favorable, they delay the release of the information to the public in order to drive more sales. The most recent example of this is Vytorin (and its component Zetia). These drugs were proven to reduce bad cholesterol. However, a dangerous assumption was made that this inherently also reduced the risk of heart attacks. The fact is that the drug does not reduce the risk of heart attacks. The drug companies of Schering-Plough Corp. and Merck & Co. marketed this nearly useless drug for two years after they knew it did not work for the purpose it was intended, according to AP in their article.

Pharmaceutical companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing campaigns. This is taking money way from research and development. In my opinion, it is also likely the major reason that drug costs are raising drastically since the band on drug advertisements was lifted.

Advertising drugs directly to the public encourages self-diagnosis. People are trying to be their own doctors. Advertising, along with the establishment of the Internet has given hypochondriacism new life and even legitimacy. Self-diagnosis is very dangerous.

Given these reasons, I am now in favor of re-establishing the restrictions on advertising for proscription drugs. This will help reduce the chances that corporate greed will take advantage of Americans. It will help reduce the cost of drugs. It will help provide for more R&D funding into new treatments. And, it will help reduce dangerous hypochondriacism and self-diagnosis.

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