Sifting Through the Clutter of Prescription Drug Advertising

Sifting Through the Clutter of Prescription Drug Ads with Clinical Guidance

When you see a TV commercial for a prescription drug, it may seem like the drug can solve all of your problems, and it’s the right drug for you.  Smiling faces, happy people…However, these ads can mislead viewers, encourage over-prescribing and contribute to increased health care costs. One study found that the ads on four major cable television increasingly emphasized lifestyle over education, which could create more confusion for your employees.

Of course, the marketing isn’t all bad. Supporters say that these ads equip consumers with reliable information about medical conditions and their potential treatments, remove the stigma associated with certain diseases and even help create revenue that can enhance drug companies’ research and development funding.

Direct-to-consumer prescription ad spending has more than tripled in the last two decades, to nearly $10 billion in 2016. With ad spending showing no signs of slowing down, it’s important your employees remain mindful that the commercials are created for the sole purpose of selling a product and should be viewed with an educated, discerning eye. Encourage employees to rely on the clinical expertise of their pharmacists, physicians or nurse practitioners to gain insight into whether:

  • The specific medication is the right treatment for them
  • They need that treatment for their condition
  • Generic treatments may come at a lower cost than their brand-name counterpart

Here are examples of questions that your employees should consider asking their health care providers:

  • What are the specific conditions this drug was created to treat?
  • Will this drug interact with the other medication I’m on?
  • If I have the condition this drug was created to treat, am I part of the approved population to take this medication?
  • Are there other ways I can treat my condition without the use of a prescription medication?

Your employees’ health care providers should be their first source of prescription drug information, but you can be a partner in their education too. Visit bcbsmpharmacy.com for helpful articles as well as these MI Blues Perspectives blogs:

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