I found the reading very interesting as it provided a solid background and answered some previous questions of mine. For example, I’ve always been interested in the fact that many drugs are able to be advertised to patients, or consumers, I’m torn between which is the proper term. So, it was useful to read about the increase in the ability for pharmaceutical companies to advertise directly to consumers as opposed to just physicians not only in magazines but also in television commercials. I was surprised to read that $4.5 billion was spent advertising medications in 2005 (Conrad, 17). I was even more surprised to read about how effective that advertising is on consumers with every $1 spent on advertising translating into $4.20 spent on pharmaceutical drugs (http://prescriptiondrugs.procon.org/sourcefiles/Impact-of-Direct-to-Consumer-Advertising-on-Prescription-Drug-Spending-Summary-of-Findings.pdf )** That’s a pretty amazing return and explains why pharmaceutical companies do spend so much on advertising their drugs. But it raises the question of whether it’s ethical. Should they be able to leverage so much influence on patients? Do you think that patients should be able to ask their doctors to try particular medications or should doctors recommend the medications? I’m personally slightly ambivalent in regards to this question. I think patients should have the ability to do research and make a decision about which prescription is right for them without being entirely influenced by the doctor, but I’m also wary about the influence that advertising or social groups might have on the individual’s decision. I I question how much of a role they should have in advertising, if any. There are certainly some perverse incentives for them to market certain illnesses as if to convince consumers they are suffering from the symptoms described in the commercial or magazine ad and that they should do something to get treated. I’m certainly looking forward to our next reading assignment on drug companies.
**note: I’m pretty sure this same statistic was mentioned in the reading too, but I couldn’t find it.