Prescription Drug Advertisements: What to Keep in Mind

Prescription Drug Advertisements: What to Keep in Mind

When watching your favorite show or flipping through a magazine, chances are you see at least one advertisement for a prescription drug. The medications in the ads treat all kinds of health conditions, from psoriasis to lung cancer. And on the surface, they sound like amazing drugs. But it’s important to remember that they are advertisements, created with the sole purpose of influencing your preference for that specific drug—not to help you know whether the medication is right for you.

Here’s what to keep in mind the next time you see these kinds of advertisements:

  • Your health care provider is the best source of information about medications. The advertisements urge you to go to your doctor and mention the drug’s name. “I saw an ad for Humira®, is that something I should be taking?” A better approach would be to speak with your doctor about the health condition you are experiencing, and follow his or her recommendations if prescription medications are necessary. Your doctor knows your health history and specific issues, so he or she is able to understand which medications may be right for you. Your doctor can also help you avoid possible negative interactions with other medications you may be taking.
  • Be wary of how much those medications can cost. Most drug advertisements fail to discuss the costs of the drug—and since they are for brand-name drugs rather than generic, they could potentially be very expensive. That’s why it’s important to bring up drug costs with your doctor and pharmacist—they will be able to shed more light on the overall costs of the drugs and help you make an informed decision. Blue Cross is fighting back against increasing drug costs. On a state and national level, we’re continuing to develop policies and strategies to regulate pharmacy costs for our members. In the meantime, we’re working to reduce the impact felt by Blue Cross and Blue Care Network members by promoting the use of generic drugs and excluding egregiously priced drugs from our covered drug lists when less expensive alternatives exist.
  • Remember the regulations surrounding drug advertisements aren’t foolproof. The Food and Drug Administration oversees the advertising of prescription drugs, while the Federal Trade Commission oversees the advertising of over-the-counter drugs. When you see or hear an advertisement on the internet, television or radio, it is federal law that it be truthful, discloses side effects and, when applicable, is backed by scientific evidence.

Prescription drug commercials and advertisements can be helpful and informative when exploring your options for treatment. However, you should always consult your health care provider when considering which medications are right for you.

For more information on the proper use of prescription drugs, check out these other blogs:

 

Photo Credit: Jullie Viken

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