Well­ness Arti­cles

Cana­di­ans Want to Avoid Drug Adver­tis­ing

Allow­ing direct-​to-​consumer adver­tis­ing of pre­scrip­tion drugs in Canada would be a bonanza for the media, gen­er­at­ing an esti­mated $360-​million a year in new ads. But the demand it cre­ated would also spur as much as $1.2-billion a year in new drug sales. This was reported in the Sep­tem­ber 1st issue of the Globe and Mail from Canada. The con­cern as reported in the pub­li­ca­tion, is that the bulk of that expense would be placed on the Cana­dian Medicare system.

Oppo­si­tion to allow­ing direct-​to-​consumer drug adver­tis­ing was strongly stated in the Sep­tem­ber 1st issue of the Cana­dian Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion Jour­nal when the edi­tor, Dr. John Hoey, stated his opin­ion that pre­scrip­tion drugs should not be adver­tised in Canada in the same man­ner as other con­sumer prod­ucts because that could lead to dan­ger­ous excesses, as has occurred in the United States.

The arti­cle noted that phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies spent $2.7-billion (U.S.) on adver­tis­ing in 2001, more than triple the amount they spent in 1996. The arti­cle noted that for the drug com­pa­nies, mas­sive adver­tis­ing pays off very well. For exam­ple, for each dol­lar that went to pub­li­ciz­ing the allergy drug Clar­itin, sales of the drug increased by an esti­mated $3.50. The finan­cial return on anti-​impotence med­ica­tion such as Via­gra and drugs to counter hair loss are believed to be even higher.

Dr. Hoey went on to say, “By being mar­keted in media tra­di­tion­ally used to flog cars, fast food and sham­poo, pre­scrip­tion drugs have become name-​brand com­modi­ties, enveloped in the kind of fan­tasy and desire that sur­rounds the pur­chase of lifestyle prod­uct.” The arti­cle con­tin­ued, “Fur­ther, the bar­rage of adver­tis­ing con­tributes to the ‘med­ical­iza­tion’ of the nor­mal human con­di­tion and trans­forms peo­ple into ‘two-​legged bun­dles of diagnoses’.”

An addi­tional research arti­cle pub­lished in the same Cana­dian Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion Jour­nal showed that the higher a patient’s expo­sure to adver­tis­ing, the more likely that patient was to request adver­tised pre­scrip­tion drugs. Chief researcher for that study, Dr. Bar­bara Mintzes of the Cen­tre for Health Ser­vices and Pol­icy Research at the Uni­ver­sity of British Colum­bia con­cluded, “Our results sug­gest that more adver­tis­ing leads to more requests for adver­tised med­i­cines, and more prescriptions.”

Ran­dom Article

The US Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA) has issued a warn­ing to users of the over-​the-​counter pain reliever Naproxen Mon­day after fed­eral researchers

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