Why do drug companies advertise presciption drugs on TV?

I don’t see any benefit to it. Don’t doctors prescribe the drugs they’re familiar with and understand? I can’t see a patient asking about a drug he saw on TV is going to change the doctor’s recommendation. So, what’s the deal here? There must be something in it for them, or they wouldn’t be spending all that money on advertiseing.

It causes patients to bring up what they feel might be helpful to them with their doctors. If enough request a given medication the doctor will probably educate themselves about the drug and become familiar with it. Additinally some people might be living with a condition and not doing anything about it thinking it’s just life and they have to live with it (whether the problem is real or perceived is another matter). However, if you see an ad on TV suggesting a cure for what ails you then you might bring it up with your doctor…yet more sales for the drug companies.

I recall hearing a report on NPR some time ago that this advertising has indeed helped pharmaceutical sales. Given that they continue and there seems to be a fair number of these ads would suggest that companies are indeed seeing a benefit from their advertising.

Interestingly, I just heard a report of an over-the-counter homeopathic remedy advertising itself in the same manner as prescription drugs. You don’t need a doctor to prescribe it and as far as I know there is zero research to suggest the remedy does any good. However, their advertising it like a controlled drug lends legitimacy to their product that it probably doesn’t deserve.

Kinda scary…watch for those things and be sure to educate yourself before being suckered in.

I actually just did this. I have severe osteoporosis and saw that there was a new drug available for treatment. I asked my HMO primary care doc about it, she sent me to an endocrinologist, he ran some tests, and now I have a prescription for a $600/month drug. All that’s left is talking the HMO into paying for it.

I’m sure if I hadn’t said something to the primary care doc it would have never come up.

Well, if the companies advertise to the doctors directly AND to the patients who will presumably ask for the drug in question, then yes, I’m guessing that these commercials work. Look around any doctor’s office and see how much of the stuff around has company and/or drug names on it.

What I find really insidious is Phizer’s new card program; sure, you can get a discount on your drugs, but only if they are THEIR drugs. I guess you’re out of luck (or $$$) if you need somebody ELSE’S drug, huh? The commercials make it sound good, but the real intent is obvious. Not that they’re doing anything exactly wrong, but somehow I feel it should be, ya know?

Well first of all Whiterrabbit it’s Pfizer . And they are the largest pharmeseuticals company on the planet. They advertize their drugs to sell more of them.

Fundamentally, that is the answer to the OP. It is pure and simple marketing.

Case in Point. I have athsma. I used to use several inhalers each day. I saw an ad for ADVAIR and now I use one inhaler once or twice a week. See the correlation?

So you expect a company to give you a discount on a competitor’s product??? Will we hear complaints that the evil GM company is giving cashback but only if you buy one of their cars? If you want to buy a Ford, you are SOL.

Just ask around and see who’s taking Claritin for an example. Claritin is not all that good as an antihistamine, it remains very expensive despite its OTC status, and it can still make some people drowsy.

But you saw it on TV, right?

This happens to me * every day*. Someone asks me for help, we discuss their symptoms, I recommend a product, and then they pick up something like Claritin and say – * but I saw this on TV *.

IIRC, this helpful tip for dealing with electronic media came from one of Cecil’s columns-- ** everything you see on TV is wrong**.

miatachris, R.Ph.

  • but I saw this one over here on TV a few days ago ---- where did he go? *

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Sorry about the spelling error. I KNEW it was wrong but didn’t think of going to look it up.

And no, I don’t expect a company to give people discounts on competitor’s products. Say I was paying for such a card, and that was the only thing resembling prescription coverage I had. I go to the doctor and am told I need this one drug. This one drug is made by another company, and costs $10 a pill, and I need a month’s worth of them. And no, there isn’t another one that will work.

Then why the HELL am I paying for the card??? I’m pretty much screwed at that point.

I DON’T have prescription coverage. I have to pay full price, unless on the rare occasions I need medication a doc takes pity and gives me a bunch of samples. Once I was prescribed a particular antibiotic because it was cheap, which I liked; at least I could start with the cheap stuff, and move up from there if necessary.

I didn’t say it’s wrong, exactly, it just bothers me a bit. I’m sure it’s helpful for a lot of people. Drug companies rake in money as it is, so I’m suspicious of them from the get-go.

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Its Asthma. :smiley:

It’s “it’s”. :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:


A responsible doctor will at least be familiar with new drugs as they come out. A less responsible doctor should be familiar with the class of drug unless they’re a dinosaur.

I have seen, especially on my psychiatry rotation, that patients with depression will come in and say something like, “I heard about Zoloft on TV”. Since the efficacy for SSRIs are pretty similar, the doctor will just prescribe what they want. Unless of course there is a better alternative or some contraindication.

Basically there are several drugs in each class that are very similar and the one that the patient has seen on TV is more likely to get prescribed. Another one I’ve just thought of is Vioxx and Celebrex. Both COX-2 inhibitors, basically the same side effect profiles and adverse reactions. Which one would you ask your doctor about if you thought you had osteoarthritis?

Would you believe I was using the term as an adjective in the posessive sense?

Didn’t think so. :smack:

I actually found Paxil in an advert. I had bad anxiety attacks (which I controlled OK without drugs) but then I still couldn’t fly. I saw an ad for Paxil and even though I had taken Prozac for the anxiety it didn’t help. My doc gave me Paxil and now I have no trouble with flying. It really helped my career.

I don’t know if doctors are always up to date though. I pulled my hamstring and it was quite swollen. I went to the doctor and I told him I was taking Orudis for it and it was working well. He said “Who gave you Orudis?” I told him it was sold over the counter. And that was 3 months ago. I am sure that drug has been OTC for quite sometime.

<side note: I have found NOTHING beats benadryl. It makes you so tired but it works>

I’d say instead that a responsible doctor shoudl be familiar with established medicines that generally work. A responsible doctor should also be reluctant to prescribe new and expensive medicines which offer no real advantages over cheaper, proven ones. The medicines advertised on television are not the cheaper, established kind.

Nope. Not even in the possessive sense.