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Re: E-DRUG: Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Medicines

E-DRUG: Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Medicines


You seem to have a reasonably comprehensive outline to the Scrip article and
will certainly have a wealth of interesting information once
e-drugger-replies start dropping in. I would like to give a brief reaction.
First, I must admit I have not followed the recent discussion and the
perhaps new arguments in favour of DTCA. As a medical journalist cum
journalism research on media/drug information, however, my gut reaction has
hitherto been no to DTCA, but it´s a tricky one. 

On the one hand, of course as a consumer and a consumer representative
(which journalists usually are or primarily should be), I am in favour of
vastly increased transparency re: health and drug information generally. One
point for DTCA, then. Furthermore, one can argue that currently particularly
the media (via independent journalism or advertorials) already 'promote'
Rx-drugs even before registration, so why not simply legalize this
situation. Deux points. 

On the other (and I tend to feel this weighs heavier), the resources of
non-commercial vs. commercial info. are so heavily skewed in favour of the
latter, that a 'yes' would just seem to open up consumers to an avalanche of
biased DI with all the attending negative effects of this (yes,
medicalization of all manner of normal or unavoidable conditions, a Niagara
of Viagra-like cases with skyrocketing drug costs,to be covered by society,
read tax-payers, etc). Already, in many developing countries,eg. Vietnam
where non-commercial from independent sources, i.a. government, are not so
developed, we see a dominance of advertising from the industry for both OTC
and Rx drugs. While, the free trade argument is that advertising is simply
product information for the consumer good, my impression is that this
situation is confusing for both prescribers, dispensers and consumer. 
Of course one can argue that this latter negative vision could be tempered
by stricter marketing rules, by more active and well-informed consumers and
journalists as well as more critical and service-minded (to the patients)
prescribers and dispensers, and by more info resources in the hands of the
drug regulatory agencies for unbiased information dissemination. But this
seems a bit Utopian at the present. Thus I seem to land in a 'no' based on
my admittedly limited knowledge. 

Just a quick reaction. I await with great interest other responses. 

Best regards,


David Finer
Medical writer/Research student
Health communication
Department of Public Health Sciences
Division of International Health Care Research (IHCAR)
Karolinska Institutet
SE-171 77 Stockholm

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