Prescription drugs should not be advertised to the general public
For a very long time, pharmaceuticals have used a Direct-to-Consumer approach to reach their customers. While that approach has helped serve their purpose, the approach has left adverse implications in its wake. This is as a result of the extra miles that the pharmaceuticals have gone to ensure that they have an even wider touch with their consumers; have gone across the grain and started using the physicians as the medium. This has triggered both praise and castigations in equal measure. Praise could mean a success to the pharmaceutical industry. On the contrary, and the reason that triggers these castigations, it could be a matter of life and death to the consumers. This paper gives explicit evidence to show that the demerits weighs down the merits and thus reflects my firm stand against the advertisement of prescription drugs to the general public.
Pharmaceuticals, through their frequent application of Direct-to-Consumer, have vigorously invested on their advertising through the media outlets. By using the media, the pharmaceuticals have access to many consumers considering that many households have access to the media. The following are the reasons that prop up my opposition of the advertisement of prescription drugs to the general public.
The prescription drugs advertisements misinform the consumers. Traditionally, the role of examining the patients, diagnosing their ailments and prescribing the drugs was left to the physicians (Crister). However, these pharmaceutical advertisements prescribe drugs without first examining their ailments. Thus, when consumers visit their doctors and pressure them to prescribe the drugs that they saw in the advertisements, whose cure was similar to their symptoms, they have taken the role of the qualified professionals of self-diagnosing. In cases where the physicians are forced by insistent patients to prescribe the insisted drug insisted they may be taking the wrong medication if the disease that they claim to have in deed could be another disease with similar symptoms. This could have adverse healthy effects. Patients, often doing amateur medical research on the internet, arrive at the doctors office armed with a set of symptoms and a list of possible diseases or diagnoses also come prepared with the name of medications they would like prescribed to them (page 2 of 5).
Two is legal cases. Most physicians are pressured by their patients to prescribe specific drugs. In real sense, the physicians stock their shelves with drugs so that they can sell and make a living out of their profession. Thus, if one physician declines to prescribe a specific drug insisted by the patient citing that the patient hasnt been diagnosed, the next physician may give in to the patients demands. Therefore the physicians are forced to adjust to the market changes, which could create or destroy their professionalism. To borrow from the saying, the physicians need to shape up or ship out.
While it is known the consequences that physicians could have if they failed to give in to their patients demands or failed to convince them otherwise, which is obviously destruction to their career, meaning that they could be out of business; it could have adverse complications if they are convinced by their patients on what to prescribe and for what diagnosed ailment. In case the wrong prescription for the wrong ailment affected the patient, it would lead to a legal case where the physician could be forced to defend him or herself after being accused of professional negligence.
Legal accusations could damage the reputation of reputed physicians or medical practitioners; could leave them bankrupt when trying to hire lawyers to defend themselves; and/or could end up in jail. A good example is that of Michael Jackson and his personal doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray. There was a claim by a nurse practitioner, Cherilyn Lee that it was Jackson who requested for the drug. Since the drug wasnt prescribed by Dr. Murray, then we are left with the possibility that he could have known about it from the media. If the nurse practitioners word is anything to go by, then Jacksons request of the the drug, Diprivan, and his subsequent death, sealed the fate of a highly reputed doctor simply; because, assuming that the nurse practitioner was sincere, Dr. Murray gave in to his patients (Mr. Jacksons) word. There was a prosecutor who was also pushing for a whopping $ 100 million from Dr. Murray as compensation for Michael Jacksons death. However, the truthfulness of that claim was put behind the ingenuity of the lawyers even though, prescription drugs may be the blame of premature deaths in American as Walter note in Point: Pharmaceutical Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Advertise If these statistics are true, an average of 270 Americans are killed by prescription pills each day, more than twice he number killed in car accidents (p.1). The reason that led to Dr. Murrays imprisonment was for not saying no, The Irish Times November 22, 2011 read. However, nothing can compensate a human life, and thus the deaths of patients who pressure their physicians or doctors to prescribe them drugs, such as Michael Jacksons death, show the extreme of the consequences (the third reason) that patients put themselves in which could be fatal.
Fourth reason is that the prescription drugs economically weigh down on the patients where they are forced to budget for these drugs, much of which are unnecessary. Americans spent $ 250 billion on prescription drugs in 2005 alone, paying twice as much for those drugs as they paid for either higher education or new automobiles, (Walter & Andrew, 2011). This means that unnecessary expenditures, in this case unnecessary medications, are used in expenses that are of little use at the expense of more important issues such as higher education. Also, if these heavy expenses on prescription drugs are widespread, it could serve as a mighty blow since they could push up the expenses on other items and increase the consumers economic woes, When consumers act in large numbers and begin to significantly increase the number of prescription medications their medical insurance premium payments will rise as insurance companies will push their increased costs back to the consumer (page 3 of 5).
Fifth, the pharmaceutical companies pose a grave danger to the general public when they devise ways to make the physicians, medical practitioners and doctors side with them. The examination of the patients, the diagnoses of the ailments that they have and the ultimate prescription of the drugs should be entirely the work of medical professionals. When the pharmaceutical companies, using their sales representatives, market their products and use every way within their capabilities to woo the medical practitioners, doctors and physicians, they are tampering with profession (Marsa). This results to wasting valuable time with the sales representatives at the expense of more important issues such as dealing with patients or developing their career in practicing medicine.
Also, when the sales representatives spend considerable time with the physicians, they convince them to use their drugs instead of those of business rivals. The pharmaceutical companies, through their sales representatives, interfere with the professionalism of the physicians in drug prescription since when they use money on them; they will be indebted to do favors for the companies (Griswold). Thus, even though the rivals drugs might be the best in form of medications, the physicians will have no remorse prescribing them to their patients. Through this, the physicians betray the faith bestowed to them by the patients that they are prescribing the best medications.
In conclusion, through the multiple advertisements made by the pharmaceutical companies, it leaves the consumers in the dark wondering what comprises the best medication. The consumers are unresolved whether the medications that have the most advertisement, those that are endorsed by trusted professionals such as physicians, those that that few side effects, the ones they can afford or the most appealing to them.
There is one explicit difference between the pharmaceutical companies and physicians; while the pharmaceutical companies target consumers, the physicians target patients. However, when the pharmaceutical companies brainwash the physicians to side with them, they are doing so at the expense of the patient. Therefore, patients should reach the pharmaceutical industries and it shouldnt that the pharmaceutical companies reach the patients through the consumers. The context can change if only the pharmaceutical companies produce their drugs aiming at the patients and not the so-called consumers. While both the physicians and the pharmaceutical companies have the objective of making profit, it should be made justifiably; both the patient (and not the consumer) and the physicians and the pharmaceutical companies should have a mutual benefit. Unfortunately, at least for now, where the consumers have a side effect of death from the prescription drugs, that is not mentioned to them or when done, written in tiny almost invisible words, death lurks in the adverts of prescription drugs.
Crister, Greg. Generation Rx: How Prescription Drugs are Altering American Lives, Minds, and Bodies. New York: Mifflin Company, 2005.
Griswold, Ann. Pharmaceuticals Advertising: Overview. Points of View Reference Center Home (2011): 1-5.
Marsa, Linda. Prescription for Profits: How the Pharmaceutical Industry Bankrolled the Unholy Marriage Between Science and Industry. New York: Scribner, 1997.
Walter, Andrew. Point: Pharmaceutical Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Advertise. 2011. 25 November 2011 <http://web.escohost.com.libproxy2.usouthal.edu/pov/delivery?sid=7276b15f-e7e8-4589>.