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Rising Concerns Over Drug Ads

Are Prescription Drug Ads More Harm Than Help?

Chances are you've seen more prescription drug commercials than you can count — Viagra, Cymbalta, Celebrex, and Yaz are just a few that I can name from memory. The ads are pervasive and influential and pharmaceutical companies know that. From 1997 to 2005, drug companies tripled their spending in television ad campaigns from $1.3 billion to $4.2 billion. In 2006 that number bumped up even further to $4.6 billion.

Though the ads do inform consumers of what's available to them, health advocates say they present drugs and symptoms in very general terms and can confuse consumers into thinking they have something they don't. A national study found that one-third of all Americans have asked for a drug they saw on a commercial and of those that asked, 82 percent were given a prescription of some sort.

To give your opinion and hear more about this issue,


It's hard to say without doubt if doctors are over prescribing these drugs but it's one of the concerns that's being raised. Other concerns include patients asking self-diagnosing and ads increasing medical costs and patient risks — the advertised drugs are usually newer with higher costs and less testing, making them more risky.


I can admit to asking about Yaz after seeing the commercials over and over again. It's the top-selling birth control in the United States due in large part to its marketing campaign — a campaign that is now under question as health experts step forward with claims that the drug is unsafe.

Have you ever asked your doctor about a prescription drug because of a commercial you saw? Did you end up taking the drug?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
hausfrau hausfrau 7 years
I agree 100% with Sy. Shocker. :)
Spectra Spectra 7 years
Ok, so here's my problem with all the new prescription drug ads: Prescription drugs do not always work for everyone and they almost always have side effects. All a drug needs to be is something like 10% more effective than a placebo to be considered effective as a treatment. So you end up with a lot of people taking meds that either aren't doing anything or are causing lots of side effects that they really don't need to be suffering from. Case in point: My aunt was diagnosed with fibromyalgia several years ago and when that new Lyrica stuff came onto the market, her doctor put her on it and it didn't really work. Then, a few months ago, she got a breast reduction surgery and all her pain stopped entirely. Turns out, her boobs were causing some nerves in her back to be pinched and once they were gone, so was her pain. Sometimes I think doctors just want to throw pills at people instead of looking at the organic cause of WHY they are having these issues.
2muchtv 2muchtv 7 years
Sometimes the drug ads are good. The ones for frequent urination come to mind. Instead of just thinking you have to live with it, it spurs people to go to the doctor and investigate what's going on. It's bad when a person self diagnoses and goes into the doctor just to get the drug, then it turns into badgering the doc for a Rx, and to shut them up, a doc may very well prescribe it. So, it's a double-edged sword, it depends on the type of ad. For heart, breathing, etc, no, let the doc do his/her job, but for Viagra it's OK, since it spurs people to see a doctor.
syako syako 7 years
I don't know. I don't really mind the ads that much. I think it is interesting to know what is out there and being able to come to your doctor with some specific questions about what's available. I find some of my docs tend to only want to prescribe one certain drug, and I think that's almost worse than these ads. I'm a consumer of the product if I choose to use it, so I like to know what is out there not just what my doc wants to push. Plus I always find it interesting to learn about other problems/diseases/diagnoses and then do more research about it (either on my own or at my doc's office).
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
If a product does have major side effects that affect most people, I don't understand why the FDA would approve it in the first place - unless the benefits greatly outweight the side effects like in chemotherapy or other cancer fighting drugs.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
I hate these ads. Half the time I'm wondering what the prescription is for and the other half I'm listening to someone quickly rambling on about the possible side effects. I understand the government makes them list the side effects but I don't need to know that it gives you uncontrollable bowel movements or an oily anal discharge. Nasty! Side effects usually are mild and affect a small portion of users - shouldn't the doctors be responsible for explaining all the side effects and monitoring their patients while on these meds?
shiningeyes shiningeyes 7 years
I REALLY miss the pre-prescription-ads-television days. They are so obnoxious. I honestly don't pay any attention to them, because they normally don't have generic versions which means I won't be able to afford it. Not to mention, I just hate taking medications (unless I absolutely have to) and I'm not a big fan of the pharmaceutical industry.
MariahGem MariahGem 7 years
I haven't been particularly swayed by ads, but I'll tell you what has urged me: Magazine articles! I have always loved Glamour magazine, but twice in the last year they have done articles on Adderall and other drugs, telling us what wonder drugs they are (A pill that makes you crazy smart and thin???) and while they spend maybe a paragraph telling about the dangers of certain prescriptions and how you can get addicted or borrowing them from a friend is bad, they do almost nothing to make me not want them. They make me want to get my hands on them ASAP! Which sucks, because I'm on an SSRI and I can't have Adderall, which upsets me to no end!
runningesq runningesq 7 years
this is from the song, Underwear Goes Inside the Pants: You know we have more prescription drugs now. Every commercial that comes on TV is a prescription drug ad. I can't watch TV for four minutes without thinking I have five serious diseases. Like: "Do you ever wake up tired in the morning?" Oh my god I have this, write this down. Whatever it is, I have it. Half the time I don't even know what the commercial is: people running in fields or flying kites or swimming in the ocean. I'm like that is the greatest disease ever. How do you get that? That disease comes with a hot chick and a puppy.
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