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26 Oct

Prescription Drug Company Advertising - Beneficial or Harmful?

Prescription Drug Company Advertising - Beneficial or Harmful?

We can’t miss the endless amount of commercials for prescription drugs when watching television. There seems to be an advertisement running for some drug during every commercial break.  In the 1980’s, prescription drug companies started direct-to-consumer advertising, instead of just advertising through doctors.  According to, for every advertising dollar spent, the drug company “increases retail sales by $4.20.”

Is it really beneficial to us?  Only the United States and New Zealand allow advertisement of prescription drugs. We all have read in recent years of people going to Canada for cheaper drugs.  No wonder when in 2011, The Congressional Budget Office released a study, "Potential Effects of a Ban on Direct-To-Consumer Advertising of New Prescription Drugs", and found that, “the average number of prescriptions for new drugs with DTC advertising is nine times greater than prescriptions for new drugs without DTC ads.“

In order for the drug companies to advertise to us, they have to list the side effects. However, some of those side effects make me wonder why anyone would try the drug in the first place.  It also makes me wonder why a country that is so young shuns the natural remedies that have been used for centuries in China.  In addition, The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate the vitamin and supplement industries.  Doctors normally don’t tell their patients there may be herbs that will help relieve menstrual pain or relieve digestive issues.  Instead they’ll write a prescription.  But things in the country are changing.

The Cleveland Clinic recently opened a Chinese herbal-therapy ward. According to The Cleveland Clinics website, they have over 3000 physicians and scientists, and “4,450 beds system-wide.” Patients must be referred to the program by a physician, and there is a one hundred dollar consultation fee that isn’t covered by insurance companies.

They aren’t the first to offer these services. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article, “A Top Hospital Opens up to Chinese Herbs as Medicines,” highlighting NorthShore University HealthSystem and Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University, two well known health systems that have begun offering herbal medicine to patients. Perhaps these large research hospitals will bring more studies to use of herbs, and we consumers can see a relief from the high cost of drugs, their side effects and an end to the commercials.



Mickey Lovingood is a Business Development Coordinator on our Healthcare Business Development Team. She has more than 15 years’ experience in customer relations and sales.


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