Direct-To-Consumer Ads Change Doctor-Patient Relationship

Armen Hareyan's picture

Direct-to-consumermarketing of prescription drugs -- "now a mainstay of newspapers,magazines, and TV and radio broadcasts" -- has "altered thedoctor-patient relationship" by "forcing" physicians to"respond to people's demands for heavily touted drugs," rather than"taking the initiative in suggesting treatment," Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus writes.Proponents of DTC advertising say the practice helps educate people aboutpossible ailments and treatment options, but critics say DTC advertising"undercuts doctors by having patients all but demand specific medicines --medicines that can come with a hefty price tag and a bewildering array of sideeffects," according to Lazarus.

Lazarus writes that while some doctors respond to patient requests for drugs bysuggesting generics or alternative treatments, if patients are "determinedto try a name-brand drug they've seen" advertised, "it's often notworth the trouble" of trying to convince them otherwise. According toLazarus, "DTC advertising has turned prescription drugs into just anothergotta-have-it consumer product" (Lazarus, Los Angeles Times,2/6).

Reprintedwith permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.