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Dutchess_III's avatar

Why do they advertise prescription drugs on TV?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42438points) May 17th, 2016

If I have a problem I would go to the doctor and use what he or she prescribed. I assume they know more about it than I do, and know what I need. I can’t imagine going in and demanding they prescribe some drug I saw advertised on TV.

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24 Answers

Esedess's avatar

It’s an American thing. I’ve heard they don’t do that in other countries.

zenvelo's avatar

It is done so you will ask your Doctor, “How about giving me that Omertà/Baxalta/Foofaraw (made up names)”?

A lot of times the ads will describe treatments for symptoms that people have but did not know if there was a treatment and were reluctant to go to the Doctor.

In American commerce, if you wonder why something is done, it is because it makes money. Drug companies do not advertise drugs that won’t generate fit, they advertise drugs when they can create a demand and make money.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

~ If you have experienced death than call this important phone number. To see If you can get a cash settlement. ~

Dutchess_III's avatar

Have you noticed how about 6 months after some drug is no longer advertised, advertisements for lawyers who are suing the makers of that drug pop up.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes. I was on Zyprexa in the begining of university it was on those class action lawsuits at 3 am. I didn’t call. Maybe I should have?

Tbag's avatar

@zenvelo spot on. I’m guessing it’s a lot but I wonder what’s the ROI for drug advertising…

zenvelo's avatar

@Tbag Been a while since I looked at the income statement for a pharmaceutical company, but I did hear one time they collectively spend more on Advertising and Promotion than they do on research.

DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

According to this, pharmaceutical companies spent $4.5 billion on consumer marketing in 2014. What is more troubling, however, is that they apparently they spend 10 times that amount marketing to doctors.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@Esedess is correct. This is not done in many other countries outside the United States. We in Ireland do not advertise prescription medicines. In fact I can confirm (because I work for a pharmacy) that we try to persuade people away from choosing over the counter codeine based pain killers). There are many perfectly fine codeine free alternatives. I for one, avoid codeine like the plague.

In my country the only medications that are advertised are over the counter painkillers, cold and flu remedies, remedies for heartburn, indigestion, allergies and travel sickness. Prescription medication should only be used when absolutely necessary and when instructed by your doctor. There is no logical reason to be promoting a prescription medicine on television, internet or radio. If a particular brand (or pharmaceutical company) needs to gain recognition they should organise a business partnership with a doctor or pharmacy (and be approved by the relevant health board).

2davidc8's avatar

The U.S. and New Zealand are the only countries that allow prescription drugs to be advertised on TV. In other countries, it is actually prohibited.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Do you know why it’s prohibited?

NerdyKeith's avatar

@Dutchess_III As far as I know its due to healthcare restrictions. It is generally deemed as unethical to be promoting a substance which may not be necessarily ideal for certain people to begin with. People tend to self medicate enough as it is. Throwing prescription medicines in the mix only makes things worse.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That makes sense. But they can’t get it unless the doc says they can…..

DoNotKnowMuch's avatar

^ The AMA is against direct marketing to consumers.

NerdyKeith's avatar

@Dutchess_III Officially speaking they need a prescription from their doctors. But there is always the chance of a doctor prescribing a family member or friend a requested medication. They are not supposed to do this obviously (as it can be considered as malpractice), but it does unfortunately happen.

Jak's avatar

Because people are fucking stupid. They see the drug advertised and want it. Then they imagine they have the symptoms and tell their doctor that they need that drug. Then they get it and tell their stupid friends the stupid conversation they had with their doctor so they could have it; ”...so I told him, listen, none of the other stuff you gave me is helping, I think it’s time to try something that has a chance at working for me.”
It’s appeal through marketing and dear god does it ever work. Baaaa aaaa aaaaa.
@Tbag, the ROI is HUGE. Big Pharma makes more than oil and banks. I could look up some figures for you, but I’m about to go shower. But their lobby, dear god. It’s staggering, and they’re financing Hillary, btw.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wondered about that too. I’ve heard it’s common for med students, doing research on a specific illness or disease, to get the idea that they seem to have the symptoms of the disease. I don’t know how true it is. I wonder if the commercials are designed to try and convince people that they have something wrong with them that they can fix.

Jak's avatar

I posted this in another thread, but it fits here as well.
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.” Aldous Huxley

Mimishu1995's avatar

You are not alone @Dutchess_III. We have the same problem here too. The commercials promote virtually everything that can cure everything it can think of: brain supplement, stomach inflamation, liver problems like cirrhosis, bone problems… you get the idea, not even Gout can escape! Believe it or not when I say I actually grew up with those kinds of commercials. These days they are on the decline but back then it was overwhelming. But the absurdity is still the same.

Buttonstc's avatar

I don’t know about anyone else, but I can remember the time when prescription medicine advertising WAS prohibited in the US. It was headline news when that restriction was lifted.

I’m assuming it was due to the persuasion efforts of all those well paid lobbyists hired by the drug companies. It’s not as if there was huge consumer demand for it :)

jca's avatar

It’s fascinating now when you go to the doctors’ offices, every single item on the counter is an advertisement for a drug company. Tissues, hand sanitizer, pens, pads of paper, pen holder, clip board, you name it, it’s got an ad on it.

Buttonstc's avatar

When I was in Philly, I went to an allergist who really knew the game and how it’s played and used it for the benefit of his patients.

You didn’t really see much evidence of the cheapo stuff like tissues, pens, pads etc. but he had an entire closet full of floor to ceiling shelves stocked chock full of all the latest really expensive asthma drugs. And if you were a patient of his without any insurance coverage for prescriptions, you got whatever was needed straight out of that closet. (It’s not as if you could just walk in and take whatever, but if it was in your chart the nurse gave it to you whenever you needed it.)

At the time I was on two different types of inhalers and a steroid nasal spray on a regular basis as well as antibiotics when needed.

Asthma inhalers are HUGELY expensive and all that stuff would have cost me an arm and half a leg if I’d had to buy them. I was extremely grateful for a Dr. who did that for that benefit of his patients.

Most Dr’s. avoid drug salesmen like the plague and didn’t want to be bothered seeing them. So, the drug reps would only leave a small batch of samples.

But Dr.A. got a WHOLE LOT more simply because he was willing to spend 3–5 mins. with a rep. The first time I saw that closet, I laughed and jokingly asked the nurse if he spent his nights knocking over pharmacies.

She laughed and told me his method very simply. He never saw any rep for more than a few minutes as most had their spiel down pat. But when it came time for sample talk, he wasn’t shy about asking for huge batches of the really expensive stuff that he prescribed the most of.

And he regularly made out like a bandit. Obviously these reps had access to huge quantities of the current meds, so he figured that as long as these drug companies were spending all this money, he might as well use that to benefit his patients.

So he played the game. A tiny bit of his time in exchange for lots of freebies. But he went for the high cost freebies which had the most effect on the quality of life for his patients. Who cares about pens and stuff, it’s those costly meds which really matter.

He was a really smart guy who knew how to play the game and I was very grateful for it.

David_Achilles's avatar

@Buttonstc amazing…very enlightening

Dutchess_III's avatar

When I first moved here I didn’t have insurance, and I had a wonderful doctor. He always gave me “samples,” so I wouldn’t have to buy whatever meds.

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