The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries where direct-to-customer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs is legal. And in recent years, these drugs and drug ads have become a huge business.
"Pharmaceutical companies like to say that the revenue they generate, thanks in part to advertising and price increases, helps fund further innovations; but despite the astronomical costs of developing new drugs, the drug industry is still one of the most profitable in the world," according to a 2016 Thrillist article.
The article goes on to say that all this revenue makes it easy to forget the health of real people is at stake. It continues, "Prescription drug advertisements contribute to misinformed patients, since they've been shown to increase drug consumption without measurable health benefits.... Patients tend to be more familiar with a drug's benefits than with its risks... and believe pills really are the solution to every problem."
These misinformed patients lead to problems of manufacturing illness and over-diagnosis. Now, conditions that used to be taken care of naturally (i.e. menopause) have treatable symptoms. Other conditions are being over-diagnosed, leading otherwise healthy people to purchase and take unnecessary drugs.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for Teens, some of the drugs that are marketed on TV carry a risk of addiction. Some of these drugs include opioids (which include painkillers), depressants (used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders), and stimulants (used for treating ADHD). The NIDA also reports increases in prescription drug misuse over the last 15 years. This misuse can mean taking a higher dose of a prescribed medication, taking someone else's medication, or taking medication to get a high.
What do you think of prescription drug advertisements? And do these advertisements lead to drug abuse? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!