Malpractice News

May 25, 2013

TV ads may prompt improper drug prescriptions

Advertisements for prescription drugs seem to inundate the television these days. Hardly a commercial goes by that you won’t see a 30-second blip about how some pill or other is sure to cure what ails you. These commercials almost always end with the catch-all phrase, “Ask your doctor is this drug is right for you.” That’s pretty good advice since only a doctor can diagnose your symptoms. But according to a recently published study, “ads also have influence in the doctor’s office—and to a degree that may subject patients to more harm in the form of side effects than good.”

Statin prespcriptions on the rise

The study looked specifically at statins, which are drugs prescribed to treat high cholesterol. Researchers found that patients who had been exposed to “direct-to-consumer advertising for statin drugs were 16 to 22 percent more likely to receive a diagnosis of high cholesterol.”

This is troubling because the first suggestion provided to people at risk for heart disease should always be improved diet and exercise, said Jeffry Niederdeppe, assistant professor of communication at Cornell University where he specializes in studying the effects of mass media and health news coverage on health behavior and social policy.

Doctors feeling the pressure

Niederdeppe is concerned with whether this increase in prescription rates is appropriate or, “Are they at the expense of diet and exercise, which have no side effects?” Molly Cooke, president of the American College of Physiciaions, said that doctors often feel pressured to accommodate their patients’ requests for certain medications.


Site design and development by Design Spike®, Inc.