Drug Advertising Can Alter Doctor-Patient Relationships
Direct-to-consumer marketing of prescription drugs -- "now a mainstay of newspapers, magazines, and TV and radio broadcasts" -- has "altered the doctor-patient relationship" by "forcing" physicians to "respond to people's demands for heavily touted drugs," rather than "taking the initiative in suggesting treatment," Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus writes.
Proponents of DTC advertising say the practice helps educate people about possible ailments and treatment options, but critics say DTC advertising "undercuts doctors by having patients all but demand specific medicines -- medicines that can come with a hefty price tag and a bewildering array of side effects," according to Lazarus.
Lazarus writes that while some doctors respond to patient requests for drugs by suggesting generics or alternative treatments, if patients are "determined to try a name-brand drug they've seen" advertised, "it's often not worth the trouble" of trying to convince them otherwise. According to Lazarus, "DTC advertising has turned prescription drugs into just another gotta-have-it consumer product" (Lazarus, Los Angeles Times, 2/6).