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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:54 am 
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Evil Democrat
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[In the interim period during the mods' locking of our favorite CC threads (</3), I'm going to be doing my best to kickstart some discussions on less-analyzed subjects. Most of these issues (including this one) are arguments/positions I haven't fully decided my opinion on and I'd love to see some good discussion on both sides.]

I recently read another forum's discussion on the subject "advertisements for prescription medications should be illegal." For those that are unaware, the United States is unique in the sense that we allow televised and in-print prescription advertisements. Many oppose this for some (not inclusive) of the reasons below:

- Prescription drugs are volatile substances, and only medical experts are qualified to determine which patients really need them. Therefore, no good comes of consumers right to "know" such products existence. Rather, doctors should be the sole determiner.
- If someone is sick, she should go to her doctor, who will decide what medications will best treat her, if any. Prescription drug ads simply cause patients to think they need a drug they perhaps do not, and it puts doctors in a difficult position when their patients request a specific drug that the doctor doesn't feel they need.
- Ads have the potential to be deceptive or misleading.

Should the US ban pharmaceutical advertisements?

I should also mention that discussion on "free speech," while interesting, I don't think would make the best discussion here. There's plenty of precedent for the US government to ban/regulate misleading or potentially harmful commercial advertisements/speech so I think the best debate here is whether or not this speech is harmful or misleading in the first place.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:35 pm 
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I know not this "leverage" of which you speak.
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If I remember correctly, the government requires these commercials to say, "talk to your doctor about...," instead of, "BUY NOW FOR 17 EASY PAYMENTS OF YOUR FIRST BORN CHILD." Since doctors can refuse to issue a harmful or inappropriate prescription, the issue seems moot.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:39 pm 
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Mr Glasses wrote:
If I remember correctly, the government requires these commercials to say, "talk to your doctor about...," instead of, "BUY NOW FOR 17 EASY PAYMENTS OF YOUR FIRST BORN CHILD." Since doctors can refuse to issue a harmful or inappropriate prescription, the issue seems moot.

Someone against advertising would typically respond that patients would go to another doctor if their first doctor refused. That cycle of would continue until ultimately a doctor would feel that the best scenario would be to provide a prescription.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:46 pm 
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Hyper Static Union wrote:
Someone against advertising would typically respond that patients would go to another doctor if their first doctor refused. That cycle of would continue until ultimately a doctor would feel that the best scenario would be to provide a prescription.


1. Speculation. Show me the numbers. I don't like policy based on speculation.

2. Cost. Depending on your insurance policy, all those doctor's visits could be expensive. One might copay $10-40 for each visit (not that painful), or if someone is on an HSA plan, (s)he would have to pay the full price of each visit until (s)he has spent $1,300 or more out of pocket (really painful).

3. Hassle. Going to all those doctors is a HUGE hassle. I can't speak for everyone in the world, but I'm too lazy to schedule, attend, and fill out new patient paperwork for 10 doctor's appointments. That's close to a hundred pages of paperwork and at least an hour on the phone. I doubt that a generic TV ad would dupe someone into spending all that time, money, and hassle.

4. Supply limit. There is a limited number of in-network doctors in any given area, which limits the potential for abuse. Furthermore, going out-of-network (a doctor that your insurance policy doesn't cover) is prohibitively expensive for most people, which further restricts the number available doctors. By how much? I don't know.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:20 pm 
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Mr Glasses wrote:
Hyper Static Union wrote:
Someone against advertising would typically respond that patients would go to another doctor if their first doctor refused. That cycle of would continue until ultimately a doctor would feel that the best scenario would be to provide a prescription.


1. Speculation. Show me the numbers. I don't like policy based on speculation.

2. Cost. Depending on your insurance policy, all those doctor's visits could be expensive. One might copay $10-40 for each visit (not that painful), or if someone is on an HSA plan, (s)he would have to pay the full price of each visit until (s)he has spent $1,300 or more out of pocket (really painful).

3. Hassle. Going to all those doctors is a HUGE hassle. I can't speak for everyone in the world, but I'm too lazy to schedule, attend, and fill out new patient paperwork for 10 doctor's appointments. That's close to a hundred pages of paperwork and at least an hour on the phone. I doubt that a generic TV ad would dupe someone into spending all that time, money, and hassle.

4. Supply limit. There is a limited number of in-network doctors in any given area, which limits the potential for abuse. Furthermore, going out-of-network (a doctor that your insurance policy doesn't cover) is prohibitively expensive for most people, which further restricts the number available doctors. By how much? I don't know.

1. I think most doctors would back HSU up, but it seems also rather intuitive to me.
(A) Authority. A doctor's authority is based on more than a decade of education. Someone who is convinced by an infomercial (it happens...) may believe that they know something that a doctor does not and make them believe that they can challenge what their doctor says.
(B) It doesn't need to be a harmful medication. It might just be unnecessary. As long as the patient wants it and it won't cause side effects, it's in the doctor's interest to prescribe it.
(C) People are gullible. There's a reason there are so many drug ads and infomercials: because they work.

2, 3, 4: If it's a chronic problem that causes pain or discomfort (like insomnia... of which there are no small number of drug ads) then I can see someone going through those hoops to get what they want, especially if their primary care provider has been working on the problem for a while and hasn't found a solution.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:04 pm 
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Also, pharmeceutical companies give doctors incentives to prescribe their products. so it's not like doctors will always respond to a patient's inquiries in a manner that is most beneficial for them.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:10 pm 
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Part of my unwillingness to further restrict advertisement for medical products (in particular pharmaceuticals) is the fact that it is already immensely expensive process to produce a new drug as is, a prohibitive cost that often stymies medical innovation. A restriction on ads means, probably less of a profitability. I realize for many that is a bad word but decreased profitability means a decreased willingness to produce new drugs.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 8:14 pm 
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Masked Midnight wrote:
I would not ban them for free speech reasons. This is not the justification that the OP wanted so I won't flesh it out. That's where I am on it though. :)

Oh that justification is fine, in my opinion, I just only think it matters if you can deal with the reasons why they should be banned. For example, SCOTUS/constitutional law dictates that not all speech is free, and the government does have a compelling interest in regulating some misleading and/or commercial speech. Therefore, the debate should be, is pharmaceutical advertising misleading/problematic or justifying a speech regulation.

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