Friday, November 09, 2007

direct to consumer ads for medicine

There was a paper in this year's Human Factors Conference that got me thinking. The results of the research described are not new, but they cited some past work that always gets me so frustrated by regulatory cluelessness. DTC ads for prescription drugs are required to include both the benefits and the risks. But the regs don't show any knowledge of HF by the regulators. We all have seen or heard the ads where the benefits are promoted in 90% of the ad with smiling faces, well designed graphics, etc. And then the risks are in small print on the bottom or in 1 second of babbling audio. What a waste of an important regulation.

In order to make good health care decisions - and reduce the tremendous cost of health care, we need to be able to make intelligent decisions about our care. Or at the very least, please don't make it worse by encouraging patients to march into their doctors offices demanding the latest name brand drug that is 100 times the cost of the generic but only 1% more effective (or not even that).

This study found that only 5% of people reported that their doctors turned down the request. Doctors would rather give the patient what he/she wants, avoid the conflict, and make the drug rep happy (after getting some sweet perks).

And who cares - its the insurance company that pays the tab. Except that when our policy premiums go up at double the rate of inflation, we wonder why. Duh !!