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By Dennis Thompson
SUNDAY, Oct. 4 (HealthDay News) -- You can't channel surf at all these days without stumbling across drug advertisements featuring happy people, sunny days, vague descriptions and a quickly mumbled list of side effects.
If you think you're seeing more of these ads than ever before, you're right.
The amount of money spent by pharmaceutical companies on direct-to-consumer advertising more than tripled between 1997 and 2005, growing from $1.3 billion to $4.2 billion since restrictions governing drug ads were relaxed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to the California Public Interest Research Group, a public advocacy group nicknamed CalPIRG.
Only the United States and New Zealand allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise their medications directly to consumers, according to the FDA.
Doctors and patient advocates say the companies are getting good returns on their investment. Spending on prescription drugs has grown faster than any other type of health-care spending in the United States. "If you just look at the number of prescriptions issued since restrictions have lifted, they've definitely gone up," said Michael Russo, a health-care advocate for CalPIRG.
However, there is concern in the medical community that the drug ads could be damaging to both patients and the health-care system.
"I think the advertisements can serve a useful purpose by making people aware of products available to them," said Dominick L. Frosch, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. "We want people to make informed decisions so they understand the specific risks and benefits of following a certain treatment.
"But the benefit information in these ads is often described in vague, general and emotionally driven terms, and the risk information also is not presented in a very helpful way," Frosch said. "The current format of the ads doesn't do a very good job of making sure patients are well-informed."
Originally posted by SphinxMontreal
Gee, could this be the reason the mainstream media is pushing junk science and the swine flu vaccine? Maybe they don't want to piss off their biggest advertisers? Maybe there is a little reward in it for them in it at the end of the day - like a promise for more advertising revenue.
I'd rather smoke crack than put into my body the toxic poison these people are peddling.
[edit on 5-10-2009 by SphinxMontreal]