Posted By Kathleen David on March 31, 2008
I remember when the drug companies were first allowed to advertise directly to the consumer rather than just to the medical community. We were told that a more informed public is a good thing and that doctors had been not tell patients all their options because another drug company had given them money or gifts. At the time I though it was a bad idea and I have, over the years, not changed my mind on the subject. Of course I knew about a lot of these drugs because I read my mother’s nursing magazines. My favorite articles were about how to deal with doctors who thought they were g-d on earth. I still call my mom to have her look up the drugs we are given to take and find out if there is something I need to know in addition to the little pamphlet they give you with your medications these days.
Today I see an article in the paper about two drugs that have been very heavily advertised on television Vytorin and Zetia which are suppose to help with the lowering of high cholesterol and help the heart in the long term. Well apparently these are suppose to be last resort drugs after other cholesterol lowering means have not worked for the patient. According to the article, a two-year clinical trial that showed that the drugs failed to slow, and might have even sped up, the growth of fatty plaques in the arteries. Growth of those plaques is closely correlated with heart attacks and strokes. Of course the drug companies are saying lets not be too hasty here but then their profits are linked to these drugs right now. But there are now a lot of questions about how the drug trials that the companies did were analyzed and the length of the trials before the FDA approved the drug.
A couple of Doctors have said that the heavy advertising of these drugs led to the over prescription of them. And it is not the first case I have read in recent times that a drug that was heavily advertised did not perform when put into a longer trial period with more controls put in place. In fact there are a number of drugs that now you only hear their names in ads from lawyers looking for clients to sue drug companies because there were problems with the drug.
I am not saying that drug companies should not be able to advertise to the public, but I think there needs to be a serious look at this sort of advertisement. Or maybe we need to take a serious look at how these trials are performed before approval is given. Or there needs to be a period of time between the drugs approval and the all out ad blitz these expensive drugs get. I think there needs to be something done before the next drug switched from ads by the drug company to ads by the law firms.
I am grateful that I have access to good information about various forms of medications.