The Misleading Truth About Pharmaceutical Advertisements
Is a patient at liberty to diagnose his or her own affliction? If so, are they also qualified enough to know the right medication and take into consideration the drugs adverse effects? With the recent onset of direct to consumer advertising for prescription drugs, this is becoming the case. In 1994, expenditures on direct to consumer advertisements were about twenty-five-million a year. By 1998 that figure changed to about 225 million (Sasich 2). Turn on the TV, there they are. Open your favorite magazine, there they are again. Listen to the radio, congratulations, you’ve found another ad for the latest prescription drug. Rush down to your local physician and life will be perfect, right? Do these advertisements have a place in healthcare, where they could be potentially dangerous? Although educating the public about treatment options is not a bad thing, these advertisements are misleading the public into unnecessary treatment.
We first have to look at what an advertisement is intended to do: persuade. Advertisements for prescription medication are not only persuading the general public to get the treatment, they are telling them that they have the affliction. This is increasingly damaging in cases where the affliction is somewhat subjective, such as depression. I’m sure that every normal person has at least once in they’re life felt sad or depressed. This does not mean that there is a problem that would require medication. But advertisements are telling them that they do. If a patient feels this way, take this, everything will be perfect and the patient will unquestionably feel happy. Take this pill and problems will disappear faster than a hamburger at Weight Watchers. This is not the case. Advertisements are not selling the remedy; they are selling the affliction, and promising that your life’s problems can be whisked away in one convenient little pill. Since the onset of advertisements for medication, the industry has skyrocketed. Pharmaceutical companies are making more profit now than ever before (Sasich 5). Does this mean that more people are getting sick? Obviously not- it means the industry is prescribing the medication not the doctors. It means that people are being fooled into their own sickness. The pharmaceutical industry is a supply and demand industry. In order to sell a product, an advertiser or pharmaceutical company must first create demand; this is the first rule of marketing. If no one needs it, no one will buy it. Is this an industry that should be allowed to create this type of demand?
To fully understand the suggestiveness in these ads, you have to look at what they imply. In a magazine ad for Effexor, a drug for depression or generalized anxiety disorder, it clearly states in large wording, “I got my playfulness back.” There is a picture of a woman holding her baby and the...