The People's Perspective on Medicine

Are You Fed Up with the Proliferation of Prescription Drug Ads?

It's not your imagination. Rx drug ads have been increasing! There were 663,000 TV drug commercials in 2016? Fed up? Why not complain to the FDA? Here's how

Drug companies used to focus their marketing strategies exclusively on doctors. They spent millions on sales representatives who traveled the country chatting up physicians and handing out free samples. There was no such thing as direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertising. Now It seems as if every third commercial on television is for a medication. A physician from the 1980s would be astounded to see prescription drug ads to treat cancer, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis.

The Spread of Prescription Drug Ads:

Prescription drug ads pay for a lot of your television viewing. If you have the impression that there are more such commercials on TV than there used to be, you are correct.

A study published in JAMA (Jan. 8, 2019) found that direct-to-consumer advertising went from $2.1 billion in 1997 to $9.6 billion in 2016. The proportion of marketing dollars spent on reaching consumers also increased during the last two decades. It went from 11.9% of total marketing dollars in 1997 to 32% of the total in 2016.

A Brief History of Prescription Drug Ads

In 1983 then FDA commissioner Arthur Hayes asked drug companies if they were planning to push for prescription drug ads directed at patients. According to an article by Dylan Scott (Stat, Dec. 11, 2016):

“Almost all of them said, ‘No, that would be a terrible idea.’”

In 1984 drug companies responded to Representative John Dingell from Michigan about DTC drug advertising:

R.T. Parfet, Chairman of the Board, Upjohn Company, (U.S. House of Representatives, 1984):

“The view of the Upjohn Company is that the direct advertising of prescription pharmaceuticals to consumers…would be detrimental to the pharmaceutical industry and, more importantly, a potentially disruptive element in our medical delivery system as a whole…Our view is that there is a vast difference between education and promotion…Product specific consumer ads could increase costs.”

Allan S. Kushen, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, Schering-Plough (U.S. House of Representatives, 1984):

“We have serious concerns about proposals to allow advertising directly to patients. We do not believe it is in the public health interest; indeed we believe that, in most cases, it cannot safely be accomplished.”

Edgar G. Davis, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Eli Lilly and Company (U.S. House of Representatives, 1984):

“We do not believe that commercial advertising of prescription drugs is appropriate…prescription drugs embody a complex set of factors with potential human effects that can best be evaluated by the physician…Therefore, we believe that the need for the physician’s supervision of any prescription drug taken by the patient is paramount and that the potential pressures of public advertising of prescription drugs on the scientific decisions of the physician are both unwise and inappropriate.”

An About Face About Prescription Drug Ads

In 1997, for reasons that remain mysterious to us, the FDA decided to make it easier for drug companies to advertise prescription drugs directly to consumers. The companies conveniently forgot their concerns about such practices. The floodgates opened.

The special communication in JAMA (Jan. 8, 2019) by Drs. Schwartz and Woloshin noted the change from 1997 to 2016:

“DTC prescription drug advertising increased from $1.3 billion (79 000 ads) to $6 billion (4.6 million ads [including 663 000 TV commercials]), with a shift toward advertising high-cost biologics and cancer immunotherapies.”

Can you believe it? In 2016 there were 663,000 TV commercials for prescription drug ads! We bet there were a lot more than that in 2018.

Names like Chantix (“I’m Ray and I quit smoking with Chantix”), Trelegy (“The Power of 1-2-3”), Trulicity (“I can do more to lower my A1C”) and Xeljanz (“the Unjection”) may sound familiar. They are good examples of television marketing of expensive prescription drugs.

Do DTC Prescription Drug Ads Work?

There is little question that these commercials are effective. Drug companies would not spend billions of dollars if they weren’t getting a substantial return on their investment.

What they may not realize, however, is how much the American public dislikes these ads. Here is just a smattering of comments we have received.

Chris in Florida wrote:

“The drug ads should actually show the TV actors experiencing the side effects of the advertised drug with an annoying soundtrack in the background. If one of the side effects is potential death, then show a funeral scene. I think that would make a funny SNL skit.

“They should also show a range in price per dose. That will not distract the audience. It would cause big pharma stocks to plummet, and only then will they pull their distracting ads.”

Jerry in North Carolina stated:

“Pharma ads should be banned for the simple reason that we are not qualified to make those decisions ourselves based on showing us happy people. Only our doctors are.

“A health care system such as ours makes as much profit from their product as they can. Showing happy faces is how they get us to ask our doctor for it. European countries do not allow prescription drug commercials to be aired.”

Patricia in California said:

“Everyone complains about ads, but no one does anything about them. I turn the channel off and don’t go back but invariably when I go to CNN, there they are again.

“I would like someone to explain to me why telling everyone they may commit suicide or have a heart attack or stroke is a good selling point. I wouldn’t take any of them. Also, this is the reason drugs are off-the-chart expensive.”

Keith in Massachusetts summed it up:

“All I have to say is AHHHH! I am going crazy listening to them. I am ready to break the TV. I run to mute it.”

One of the co-authors of the JAMA study, Dr. Steve Woloshin, told Kaiser Health News:

“Marketing drives more testing. It drives more treatments. It’s a big part of why health care is so expensive, because it’s the fancy, high-tech things that get marketed.”

We Have Complained to the FDA!

We are starting to sound like a cracked record when it comes to complaints about prescription drug ads. We are especially aggravated about the “formula” that drug companies have come up with to distract people from the part of the commercial that talks about nasty side effects. In virtually every ad you will see people smiling and having a good time when the announcer starts listing horrific drug side effects. Here is an article we wrote about this:

Do NOT Trust People Smiling During Drug Commercials

We complained about this practice to the FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion. Here’s what came back in response:

“Thank you for taking the time to alert us to potentially misleading promotion.  You and other healthcare providers are some of the most important resources we have in monitoring promotional activities in the prescription drug market.  Below is a detailed explanation of how we will use the information you have provided to help stop misleading promotion.

“If you provided contact information in your complaint, an Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) representative may contact you to see if you would like to discuss your complaint.”

As far as we can tell there has been no follow-up. People are still smiling during the scary parts of the commercials. There is one other tactic. The latest Chantix “Cold Turkey” commercial has come up with other visual strategies to distract you. Here is a link so you can see for yourself.

Are you FED Up Yet?

If you have become fed up with prescription drug ads, why not let the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration know? You can contact

  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the FDA
  • 10903 New Hampshire Ave
  • Silver Spring, MD, 20993-0002.

Ultimately, though, this will likely require an act of Congress. You may want to express your thoughts to your Senator and Representative.

Share your feelings about prescription drug ads below in the comment section.

Rate this article
star-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-empty
5- 21 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
Get the latest health news right in your inbox

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

Screenshots of The People's Pharmacy website on mobile devices of various sizes
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.

Showing 100 comments
Comments
Add your comment

Drug companies spend an astronomical amount of money on advertising, even during the Super Bowl which is even more expensive. Stop the ads, and drop the prices! Again today-drug companies being questioned by Congress about why they increased the price of Insulin-a Congressman asked these Drug Execs how they could sleep at night knowing people are struggling to pay for their medication. I agree! The public should go to their doctor for advice-not to drug companies who have everything to gain ($$). Let’s get tough on these drug companies and get back to the business at hand-formulate drugs to help cure in a compassionate & caring way & make drugs affordable.

Actually, the ads are well written, clever and somewhat entertaining. It seems to give hope about the ailment the person is suffering. I have asked about certain drugs that were on TV. Doctor or pharmacist can answer questions. I believe most people are smart enough to know you can’t run to the pharmacist and start asking about a “wonder drug.” It at least lets you know there is something out there being developed to help.

Like so many others, I am fed up with prescription drug ads on TV. But more than that, I am HORRIFIED at the ads pertaining to life threatening illnesses wherein the patient is happy, for example, about living with metastatic breast cancer. I don’t care what drug they are taking, there’s not much to be excited about dealing with that disease.
It’s time, indeed it is past time, to stop big Pharma from profiting from people’s pain and worse, from advertising their pain. It’s despicable, greedy, and just plain wrong. Stop it, stop it, stop it.

Grossly deceptive! For years these drug commercials have been beyond irritating and are just increasing in number. The worst side effects are mentioned when the people on the screen are the happiest. These should never have been allowed to be broadcast. We complain about the high cost of drugs, and this is a major reason. Lawyer ads were banned from TV for many years. Since they’ve been allowed, the same proliferation has occurred. WHY? Contact your Congressional Representative and U.S. Senators, and register your disgust.

I can’t believe it is legal to show these drug ads. It should not be! It’s not that we can go to the store and buy them even if we wanted to so why do we have to listen to people with a smile telling you a side effect may be death! It is as bad as spam mail and robo phone calls. What’s the difference?

Drug company revenue is the reason for the advertising, and it is allowed because the politicians who make policy are bought and paid for. Can you say lobbying? I think there are backroom deals going on in the pharmaceutical and political community.

If I see or hear a pharmaceutical advertised on TV or radio, I’m determined I WILL NEVER ALLOW THAT CHEMICAL IN MY HOUSE. Yeah, if their ads didn’t fatten their bank accounts maybe they’d get the message. We’re not DUMMIES – let’s stop acting that way and “buying’into their hype!

I have not seen a single drug ad that was useful. They’re all cheesy and not worth watching. DVR the TV and fast forward through the ads – this technique keeps me sane. Which of the seven deadly sins come into play here? GREED!

Notice, also, that when the side effects are listed there is frequently a puppy on the screen — I guess to comfort us. Every ad is factored into the price of the drug. Considering the cost of a network TV ad, no wonder the drug prices are off the charts.

One funny story: When NSAIDs were being advertised, before the recalls, my then 11 year-old son said to me, “Mom, I want the pill that teaches you to ice skate.” Out of the mouth of babes. For me, I want the pill that lets me play par golf.

All good comments. Let’s look at the legsl aspects. They are blantly deceptive. Close your eyes so you don’t see the happy faces and just focus on the side effects to have to mention. Is there a consumer law suite there?

Someone earlier commented, “Since when is a doctor going to listen when a patient requests something they heard on TV?” There are some unscrupulous doctors out there who will write scrips for anything because they get kickbacks from pharma companies (look it up).
When my daughter was little I had to take her to the doc with a bad ear infection. We had an appointment. She was crying and in pain but they skipped over our appt. and called in the drug rep who was also in the waiting room so he could “bribe” the doc in exchange for pushing certain drugs.
My biggest beef is commercials telling you to ask your doctor if you have Peyronie’s disease (if you do you would absolutely know it, no question) and a newer commercial trying to convince people who stay up too late on facebook or twitter that they have Narcolepsy!!
An old friend of mine actually had Narcolepsy and he was not overly tired during the day. He would just suddenly fall asleep for a few moments (even in the middle of a conversation). When he awoke he felt refreshed and went on with his day. This is a neurological condition. If you fall asleep during a movie or on the bus and don’t wake up until everyone gets up to leave, you need to look at your nighttime sleeping habits.
And by the way, I know the PP has to pay bills too, but yes, there is a pharmaceutical ad scrolling on this page as I type.

Mary, we have asked our ad-serving vendor to filter out pharmaceutical ads. When we see such an ad, we object to it. However, the filtering software is imperfect!

I only wish that I could be as happy as those portrayed in the ads who have cancer and other debilitating ailments. I have C.O.P.D. and some arthritis & I am not as happy as these actors seem to be. Maybe if I picked up one more drug it would make me gleeful. Like everyone, I believe these ads should be stopped for reasons already stated. I mute & read when one comes on.

I hate these ads. They are misleading and detrimental to the public.

I HATE, HATE, HATE, HATE them. I DVR most of the television I watch just so that I do NOT have to watch those drug commercials. I recently volunteered to do a Nielson TV rating specifically to complain about drug ads.

I stopped watching almost all TV except for pbs channels. Get new from radio. This ads, as well as for alcohol and cigarettes used to be illegal.
But money always wins out.
Get more honest news coverage from bbc and other foreign channels.

When do you see ads for cigarettes on TV? They have been banned for a very long time.

I don’t think there is anyone that wants to see ads for prescription drugs on television. Since when is a doctor going to listen to a patient to suggest something they saw on TV? The side effects mentioned in the TV ads should be enough for people to NOT want to take the advertised prescription product. The money the pharmaceutical companies spend on these advertisements should go toward lowering prices on pharmaceutical drugs!

I absolutely HATE these ads that tell you what to ask for your doctor to prescribe. We change the channel!

As a retired Hospital CEO, I am disgusted with the smiling faces and the jingles associated with the advertising. They are even smiling as the mandatory warning, including that of death, are given. Consumers are not qualified, nor am I with 33 years in hospitals, to decide what pharmaceutical(s) that I need. I leave that up to my physicians.

Further, advertising costs! And we are paying exorbitant dollars for our prescriptions.

did you know an ad for embrel appeared twice in this forum?

The United States is the only country in the World that allows prescription drugs to be advertised on TV. This is a major problem for our citizens. And what is the motivation? GREED.

There are only two nations on this planet – New Zealand and the USA. It is a VERY BAD idea. It raises the cost of medication, it encourages undue expectations for patients, and sadly some ads appear at prime time slots where the use of the medication is inappropriate for young child to view. What young child needs to ask parents what Viagra is used for? The ads themselves result in a huge waste of time for nurses, doctors and pharmacists explaining why the medication is inappropriate for a particular patient. Advertising raises undue hopes for patients and their families – especially in the field of oncology.
Prescription drug advertise should NOT BE ALLOWED!!

Denny (A OncologyPharmacist) and Diane

Here’s a refreshing thought. How about the medical professionals determine the root cause of our myriad of maladies, rather than throw pharmaceuticals at us? Or convince us that we need th drugs to feel better, persuading patients that the answer is in a bottle, rather than a solution to the problem. Revolutionary!

It seems to me that all of the advertisements make it seem like: it’s ok to take a drug, don’t worry about taking a drug you’ll still be happy smiling etc.. I was taught taking drugs were bad – when did it start becoming ok to take a pill; a joint; an injection? Besides surgery for life threatening illness drugs and surgery should be the absolute LAST resort, and I repeat – only for life threatening illnesses!

I am not a doctor and therefore do not have the qualifications to decide what medicine is best for me. Why not use the billions spent in consumer advertising and use it to off-set the cost of the actual medicine to keep it affordable or put the money back into research?

As for the songs they use to promote the drug? They become an annoying earworm that would make me refuse the drug even if my doctor did want to prescribe it for me!

I too despise Pharma adds on TV. Aside from all the side effects the ads are just plain irritating and deceptive as well as not telling you that the vast majority of people can’t afford the extravagant prices charged. Pharma coupons, they’re a joke as well. I just checked on one and the coupon gave me a $20 discount on an $843 30 day prescription. if you want to see just how ridiculous the pricing is, just go to GoodRx and plug in the drug names you see advertised, but you better be sitting down. Why doesn’t the FDA do something about the atrocious legal drug problems, simple, people are being paid off. nuff said.

I am appalled at the wasteful advertising of drugs. I change channels! This money should be used to reduce the horrendous cost of drugs.

All the arguments against advertising by Pharma are absurd. As a consumer, I should be made aware of what is available. However, just because I am aware does not mean I will or can run out and buy the drug, as I need my doctor to agree and write a prescription! I don’t need the nanny state to manage what I know.

As for the side effects, I believe you are being a bit disingenuous considering you know that *all* adverse events that occur during clinical drug testing have to be reported, even those that are not necessarily due to the drug. For example, headaches, erectile dysfunction, nausea, and other common events can and do happen irrespective of taking a drug. For example, 50% of men in their 50’s experience ED at some time, and if they happen to be in a clinical trial, that has to be reported.

If you don’t like the ads, turn off the TV or mute it. I do that for all commercials….

For a long time, I have looked for a way to be proactive about the incessant parade of pharmaceutical ads wanting you to self-diagnose your illness then ask your doctor to prescribe but informing them of your conditions that they should already know. The amount of money being spent is obscene and offensive in a time when soaring drug costs keep some from getting proper health care. I will try giving my opinions to my representatives but I am not optimistic they want to offend big pharma.

You can bet that if you are watching an ad on TV for a prescription drug, you can’t afford it!

The drug industry spends BILLIONS on advertising. Why not direct that money to lower drug costs? How misleading these ads are. And shouldn’t your doctor already know what drugs you are taking? I’d like to see one person that takes a cancer drug smiling, happily playing with children/grandchildren, dining with hubby, just going on with their lives. In my world they’re on the couch or in bed fighting the ravages of side effects. Do we pay attention to these ads? NO! We rely on our doctor’s knowledge.

What is the purpose of these ads? Are we now in the mode where the patient tells the doctor what drugs they should be prescribed? Should any patient believe in what these ads say over their doctor’s advice? There must be a huge tax write off for these companies otherwise pushing drugs on patients makes no sense.

They’re awful! And WAY too many! Seems like you should be taking some kind of pill every hour!

We need restrictions like they have in Europe against advertising on TV. It seems to me the money would be better directed to research and development.

Yes, we hit mute on our TV when these commercials for medications jump out of our TV. A TV that we paid and a service that we pay for monthly. We record the most annoying programming and use fast-forward.

These ads for meds are not only depressing, they cause us to feel anger toward these pharmaceutical companies. TV is mainly watched for entertainment, relaxation, and diversion from outside pressing issues. Being asked to watch an ad filled with troubling issues and knowing that the cost of prescriptions are being forced upward by these TV ads is a huge turn-off. This is not something one wants to think about when trying to relax and redirect.

I will make a point of not buying from these pharm companies on TV, and I know I’m not alone.

As a Health Care provider for over 50 years, I have been disturbed for many years about the advertising of Prescription Drugs. I agree with one of the other writers that folks go to their medical providers and state they want xyz drug they saw on TV.
However, the person asking for the drug did not listen to all of the side effects, when the side effects hit them they then blame the provider.

I am writing to the Commissioner of the FDA and also to my Representative and Senators. Please ask all of your readers to do the same.

I have little or no respect for the pharmaceutical companies any more. They are far more profit-oriented than patient-oriented. The excuses they keep trotting out for the ever-increasing drug prices would be laughable if they weren’t so transparent and money-grubbing. They hired the best lobbyists in the business and sold consumers down the river when Senators and Congressmen invited the drug folks set their own unregulated prices.

No wonder so many Americans order their drugs from other countries – you know – those countries where prices are not set by the drug companies. Safe drugs from reliable companies are available from many places in the world at far, far lower prices then we pay.

What has happened to the FDA? When I was in the corporate world I often dealt directly with the top echelon at FDA, and they were fantastic. They were definitely on the side of the consumer and rode herd of companies that lied in commercials, charged gouging prices, etc. Seems like today the FDA exists to rubber-stamp anything the drug companies want. I’d like to think I’m wrong, but it sure doesn’t look like it.

Sad, sad commentary on how the United States allows its citizens to be treated.

Richard Burr, our Senator from North Carolina, formerly in the House of Representatives had a lot to do with it. Having given up on Big Tobacco money to fuel his campaigns, he decided to court Big Pharma. While in the House, Burr authored the FDA Modernization Act of 1997.

Burr opposes the DISCLOSE act, which would require political ads include information about who funded the ad. Burr supports the decision on Citizens United by the U.S. Supreme Court, which allowed unions and corporations to spend an unlimited amount of money leading up to political elections. The love of Money and Power is the driving force behind the drug commercials. Patients go to their physicians and request their medications based on misleading commercials. Our congressional representatives are selling out the citizens for personal gain. Burr is now a multimillionaire on a representative’s salary. How you may ask? You know how!

We are so glad to see that someone is addressing this issue!! We Mute the TV when these
drug ads come on, which is non-stop all day long!! We think that they are pushing people to
get on drugs!

All drugs have terrible side effects and can kill you but that is okay with the drug pushers as long as they make some money off you! Look at the addictions in this country, and they tell me that something isn’t going on with this trap??

We need to stand up and stop the elite who own the drug companies, who are killing people, let alone bombarding us constantly with ask your doctor about this drug and another drug all day and night!! It is horrible that they get away with this and try to convince our kids that they need drugs to solve everything!! They are using brain washing techniques on all of us!! We are sick of it!!

Suggest you read book “China Rx” by Rosemary Gibson & Janardan Prasad Singh, copyright date 2016. And where are all of these drugs coming from-China! FDA is dead on its feet!

Tom, you may want to listen to our interview with Ms. Gibson. Show 1131: Was Your Medicine Made in China?
https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2018/08/02/show-1131-was-your-medicine-made-in-china/

If making a political contribution is speech that cannot be abridged, why isn’t advertising direct- to-consumers-speech that the Constitution precludes Congress from legislating against?

That is exactly the argument that FDA and the drug companies have made.

Obviously, the objective of the commercials is to increase sales, and therefore the bottom line. However, the detrimental effect is predatory marketing that targets vulnerable persons who are persuaded that this next pill will be the answer to their health problems. Of course this is further compounded by the physician who concurs by writing the script. All losers to big pharma.

We’re horrified by the constant barrage of ads targeted at seniors. My husband and I still watch the evening news, and every major network has the same drug ads running in a different configuration. It is so upsetting and ridiculous. Why does the consumer have no rights anymore? It seems to be all about the money, not helping people heal.

Allowing drug companies to directly advertise to all is a huge mistake–as is allowing lawyers to advertise directly as well. One begs you to take the drug while the lawyers beg you to sue the drug companies for one problem or another caused by the same drugs. We record most of the programs we want to watch so we can scroll through most of these ads without watching them.

What interests me —when I do pay attention–is at the end when all the possible side effects are told. Perfect reason to avoid them ALL. In addition, first check side effects of ANY prescribed drug before taking. Possible side effects are often worse than the ailment. Even when prescribing, doctor might not know or might not understand. Buyer, beware.

Since experiencing several horrific side effects from medications, I always read the circulars included with the drugs, do further online research, and pay close attention to how I respond to any drug. Most people have no clue that their symptoms are in any way related to their prescriptions. Nor are they able to then relate this critical information to their doctor. At least not until these adverse effects reach a critical point.

It is appalling how many people have started filtering out the side effect notifications of these commercials. Much like the desensitization of violent deaths, you hear it enough, and it fades in urgency. There should be NO place for DTC drug ads. The only purpose it serves is to ensure more billions to the drug industry. Consumers see these misleading ads and immediately think it must work because TV legitimizes it. When they see healthy, happy people in the ads, well, they believe it is just that simple. Unfortunately it’s a great deal more difficult to get a change now that the pharmaceutical companies and drugmakers have tasted the wild success of the almighty dollar. Just another loss for consumers.

Prescription drug prices need to be better controlled. One good place to start is to eliminate ads.

They increase demand and prices.

Follow the money. Big Pharma pays lobbyists. Lobbyists fund politicians. Politicians squeeze the regulators. You get screwed.
It’s that simple.

The first thing a potential buyer of drugs should do is read the side effects, and, talk to the pharmacist! Even the medical community does not know how their patients will react. People, please do your research, and hold the medical community responsible. We should not rely on pharma to give them the information.

When I see these annoying drug ads, I close my eyes and LISTEN to the side effects instead of falling for the distractions of flowery scenes. I wish they could be stopped. I HATE them!

These “pill for every ill” commercials attack the weak, desperate, and gullible people who want to feel like they did at 20 years of age. Instead of each of us being responsible for our own bodies we want a pill to fix everything. Easy way out. I loathe drug companies. They are mass murderers who answer to no one. No drug ads should be on public television. My health is in my own common sense with the helping hands of chiropractors and naturopaths, holistic healing. Drug companies need to be held accountable for the deaths they cause. Talk about false advertising! Cure an aching joint but cause cancer? Seriously! Thank God for the mute button. The FDA is equally to blame for serious problems related to these drug causing deaths. They allow the killing drugs to become available with their endorsement! This is such a well-paid establishment, held unaccountable for it’s actions. Unbelievable!

I agree with everything you said. More drugs, repeat customers. The fix is in..and the domino effect keeps on keeping on. Big Pharma stands only for themselves. Not being held accountable to anyone. This must change, and change now. We are a sick country. Drug epidemics, when narcotics are handed out like candy, it is insane.

Why?

Kudos on this article. It’s way past time for Congress to make this illegal. Now that I’m a Senior (60+), if I were to take all the meds for all the conditions that I may or may not have that the Pharma Ads are promoting, I would be dead tomorrow !!

Keep up the good work with all your valuable info that you share to all !

When you learn that the US and New Zealand are the only countries that allow this madness, it puts a new perspective on just how ridiculous it is that we allow it at all!!!! This HAS TO STOP!!!

Surely the FDA can conceive the reality that advertising sells things. Hence ads that claim medicines are good sell medicines. Thus the USA has proven this fact by the scandalous rise of drug overdoses causing the incredible rise in American deaths.

Shame on the FDA & the doctors aiding in these mass killings!!!

It seems the European Union cares for its citizens much more than the United States cares for its citizens. The proliferation of drug ads is just one example. Another is the explosion in blood pressure drug recalls in 2018.
It is way past time for Congress to reform FDA from the top down, give it a larger budget, enforcement power, and re-negotiate agreements and contracts with drug makers (foreign and domestic) and insurance companies.

This is the best idea yet! Ads for female menstrual protection and birth control medical methods are no more. But there surely are a lot of ads for male erectile dysfunctional products. Those opposed to their insurance covering female birth control pills have loudly complained but I am not aware of complaints from anyone about their insurance premiums going to pay for meds for males to prevent erectile dysfunction.

I actually watch pharm ads because if they say ”may cause death” then I know that I probably won’t take them. Thanks, guys, for being honest…..

I do the same thing. Thanks for the info that these pills can kill you. It’s best to be informed. I have taken valsartan for 12 years and have developed a benign liver cyst. It would have been great to hear that this was checked years ago. I stand with you. Thanks for the last lines of the drug. Take as little as possible.

I, like so many others, am sick of drug ads! Fortunately, we do not have t.v., so I am spared some of them: but the pop-ups and other constant drug ads on the Internet are beyond irritating, too. I can’t even read the news without their annoying, intrusive, and in many cases, dangerous presence. In my opinion, they should be banned.

Good luck with the FDA and legislative intercession, though, or at least don’t hold your breath waiting for government relief from Big Pharma. I’m not. 🙄

When the commercial media , radio and TV, began to sell time on their channels to promote drugs, I instantly took their channel from my list. Public channels were my only source of entertainment and news. I have noticed that the newspapers entertainment covering commercial content of mostly TV entertainment shows that are of little worth. I can also see the (worst) trash that is pushed on the internet with side popup windows distribute material that wouldn’t be allowed on the television bands.

I practiced medicine for 30 years when there were no TV drug commercials. These commercials should be banned . But if that is not possible, then it should be mandatory to advertise also the average price for each pill, which comes to several hundred dollars a month. Then many patients will not be so anxious to ask their doctors for the advertised drugs.

In addition to the side effects, some of them are not as effective as advertised.

As a side, the ads advise to call your doctor. That is a farce, as today’s doctors do not take phone calls directly from a patient. If you are lucky you may be able to speak to a nurse, but even then more often you have to leave a message with a return call may be in 24 hours.
My patients were lucky and I was very happy to help them with their calls when medical practice was patient oriented 40-50 years ago.

Unfortunately today Doctors do not know how expensive these drugs are and many insurances do not cover these or charge hefty co-pays

I, too, am FED up with prescription drug ads on TV. Thank you so much for this information!

I too am very tired of seeing all those smiling faces in prescription drug ads. The dangerous and sometimes fatal side effects are even spoken at a reduced volume while we are being seduced by the smiles. It’s time to contact our representatives in Congress and the FDA.

Greed has taken over the world, so big Pharma got in on this, and the rest is history. They wrap everyone in a cute box. Just watch the ad and run to your doctor. Surely they will give you what you want. Simpler than buying a car now. Of which, we see more drug ads now than car ads. We scratch our heads and wonder why we have so many epidemics in this country, all stemming from mass marketing of pharmaceutical drugs.

I plan on writing my congressmen and senators, along with the FDA guru. I hope and pray I live to see the day these commercials are eliminated from tv and magazines. So many are brainwashed, but then again, that is what these ads hope for. So far, sadly, it’s working.

Because they list all those horrible side effects, I assumed people wouldn’t take them. My Dr. said they work- patients ASK for them!

I was astounded- TB. death, breathing blockage, etc. etc. and they Want to try it? Apparently so. The ad for brain help has the warning so fast and in white against the other a bit blurry, so you don’t see it’s Not recommended. How can we stop it?

My comments are like others. I mute the TV when the ads come on. And, yes, I’m very suspicious of those smiling faces. They do give you info on the side effects but only slide through it while you’re seeing all those happy people out there. I simply don’t trust the drug companies. Their sole goal is to make money.

I am so angry that these ads are allowed…and so angry that the FDA doesn’t do something. One suspects that money changed hands…lots of money. Unfortunately, Congress is not likely to do anything about this until Citizens United is repealed.

From what I have read about these ads, the drug companies want to delete the side effects and continue to market them on TV. Although I personally loathe all the ads, I also believe it’s a very bad idea to take away the long horrible list of side effects because that is the ONLY way the patient will hear about them. Their doctors certainly aren’t going to tell them!

The ads are usually misleading, especially downplaying possible complications and side effects–including death. In addition, it is obvious that ads are increasingly for drugs with tremendous prices and profit for the drug companies. Few individuals outside the health professions understand all of this, but they go out and push their providers to prescribe, prescribe, prescribe. It is unconscionable that controls are not in place, as is the case in almost all other developed countries. And their health outcomes are better than ours….

I suspect there are many people like me who refuse to buy any product with repetitive or annoying advertising. And isn’t it amazing to see a TV ad for a prescription drug that is followed by an ad for a law firm representing people harmed by that drug!

Drugs should not be advertised to the general public. Indeed, they should not be ‘advertised’ even in professional journals. Doctors should be informed about their effectiveness and effects only in professional science articles. But even if the hawking to doctors by sales reps and ads, at least no ads to the general public.

Big Pharma is too powerful & greedy. Drugs treat symptoms, alleviate dis-ease & create new symptoms. The government allows Big Pharma to co- exist with medicine without oversight. Big Pharma creates healthcare problems & then the govt & insurance companies limit or deny treatment. Shareholders & Big Pharma control health outcomes in the US. Big Pharma is a force that should not be allowed to advertise on TV. Doctors & patients are not qualified to determine safety, efficacy or adverse effects of drugs. Advertising of lethal, legal drugs should be outlawed and go the way of cigarettes & alchohol.

The results of using advertised products should be shown along with the consequences to the end users & the providers. Stop romanticizing pain , death, and greed to those most susceptible to this type of snare.

Some of this is why I nicknamed the F.D.A……the Fraud & Deception Agency.

I think some of the ads you have on the People’s Pharmacy are just as deceptive. It’s all about making money not about helping sick people get the help they need at a reasonable price.

State Legislatures should pass laws to make drug pricing more transparent. The cost of advertising in the cost of drugs should be made apparent to everyone. States should then pass laws to prohibit adding advertising to the cost.

Other laws states can pass are importing drugs from Canada and investigating the role of Pharmacy Benefit Managers in the price chain.

Why are these adds allowed in the US but not in Europe? The American public deserves protection from being bombarded with drug adds which leads to increased drug prices.

I change the channel or shut off my TV. They should never been allowed without details.

Besides misleading and unnecessary, isn’t it the Doctors’ job to determine what drug I should be using? Self-diagnosis is surely a not-too-smart idea. All these ads must be a hypochondriac’s nightmare. Sadly, it reflects the dark side of our mentality now, that only making money is important.

Direct advertising of prescription medicines should not be allowed – as was the case before the 1980s.

I’m tired of politicians talking about how each one of them wants to improve healthcare, but somehow never managing to do anything. Maybe part of the problem is trying to “solve” it as a whole, making it an issue of the “haves” and “have nots,” instead of starting with something that would benefit everyone.

Writing letters gets you nowhere. I’ve tried on more than one occasion, and what I get is some generic response that was sent by an aide. And even if you manage to vote a politician out of office, the next one is just as bad. Somehow, this is not a priority for any of them.

No one is happy about these ads, except for the people making money from them. They have the hutspah to advertise something to us that is supposed to improve our lives while actually telling us all the possible things that can go wrong, including death! What is it going to take to actually stop this nonesense?

I guess I’m different than others, what is advertised on TV never bothers me. If drug companies (and other types of companies) want to pay for “my TV” I’m OK with that. I have this habit of when ever a show breaks to a commercial of hitting the “Mute” button on the remote so commercials never bother me. Sometimes I think people just like to be annoyed about something and I guess it might has well be commercials as anything else.

I hate these commercials! Now, our local early morning news channel is starting to air them!

It is bad enough to see them on TV, but then go to an internet game and every break is a drug ad.

How can I tell if I am allergic to a drug without first trying it? Just about every drug commercial now adds this to the list of cautions. It’s just stupid.

The drug ads on TV have reached an all time low. First there is too much info given especially during the day when many young children can hear them. I am not ready to hear them at 80 years so why are these young children exposed to them ? Secondly if one of the side effects is death why are you even selling the product ??? Everyone should be getting the info they need from their physican before they start taking the drug and second best is from their pharmacy. Most pharmacists are ready ab=nd willing to answer your questions, I surely hope you will give heavy thought to cleaning up the ads on TV.

After seeing all the side effects from the medicines advertised on TV, it is amazing that any of it is taken by anyone. I have had side effects from medication and believe me it is no fun. They should halt all ads from the companies that manufacture and sell medicines.

#1 these expensive ads hugely increase the cost of drugs
#2 Ads have become too personal re: things that should only be discussed in private with your physician. Example: the crooked “pen….” ad. That is the lowest of the low.

Sick of these ads and the overdosing of America. Why is the richest country in the world abusing 90% of its population by not offering heath care for all? The richest 5% should be taxed their fair share so all can get access to affordable care, not just the richest. These ads are more confirmation that big pharma rules our country, not the voters or the majority.

Should we assume that the robo calls we get for hearing aids and senior alert devices are part of this advertising? My friend from Ireland counted the prescription advertisements he saw on my TV one morning and was appalled. Such advertising is illegal in Ireland.

A rather new doctor said to me a few weeks ago that his job was to give me medicine to relieve a condition when I was discussing my desire to find the relationship between a tremor in my wrist and what appears to be referred pain in my bicep and shoulder. I said I would prefer to try to find a fix first rather than mask the tremor. I would hope that would be a fallback option. Two years ago, when I first went to him, he was the problem solver I was seeking.

Basically, if it’s advertised on tv we cannot afford it. It’s just a waste of time for us.

The majority of the drug ads are brand new drugs that no insurance Company is going to cover. You always have to try two or three other older drugs first before they will approve the newer, advertised one. So for this reason I just can’t see how they make so much money with these TV drug ads.

One way to reduce the high cost of medical care in the United States is to make it illegal to advertise drugs that are available only by prescription. Enactment of such legislation is unlikely because of the potential loss of revenue to the TV stations. Guess we have to “grin and bear them.” Just follow the $$!

TV advertising for prescription medications is not appropriate or wise. It’s also extremely annoying for us, the viewers. Please stop the practice.

How about using those billions of advertising dollars on something beneficial to society like research, testing that’s more than cursory, so that the public is no longer your unwitting guinea pig? You attribute the outrageous price of new drugs to R&D, yet spend billions on irritating ads?? Americans are suckers to put up with the prices & sometimes lethal products Big Pharma puts out!

I am so tired of seeing those horrible ads on prescription drugs and should not be allowed to be advertised.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^