Ban television ads
for prescription drugs
I work part-time in a small pharmacy. The first three months of every year is the time we dread in the pharmacy business, because almost every time you ring up a prescription, you hear that that wasn't what it cost last time and we are asked why it went up so much for the same medication. I can't hope to fully address the reasons why this happens, but the massive advertising campaigns on television and in magazines have to be a huge contributing factor.
If a medication can stand on its merits, the advertising campaigns by pharmaceutical companies are not necessary. It isn't difficult to make the leap, for example, from a customer who has just paid over $80 for 30 pills of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory to the nightly advertising on television of the same product by a former Olympic skating champion. The cost of the meds increases, the health insurance companies respond by paying less, and the poor individual who needs the medication is dumped on by everyone.
Many people are responding by purchasing pharmaceuticals in other countries, and pharmaceutical companies are attempting to outlaw that in retaliation. God forbid that a senior citizen on a fixed income should save over $200 a month by buying prescriptions in Canada. If you ask your doctor about these meds, you'll find that the pharmaceutical companies have already dumped massive quantities of the same medications on doctors as "samples."
Sadder still is the cost of cancer medications and drugs alleged to target Alzheimer's. They don't work, ultimately, but the companies producing them certainly prey on the fears of their victims, and rack up massive profits for pharmaceutical company executives.
After witnessing this sham for several years now, I am convinced that all advertising of pharmaceutical products should be stopped except in medical and pharmaceutical journals. No one is benefiting from the barrage of media advertising but the people who produce the products. Everyone else loses. Big time.
PAMELA L. COKER
Letter to editor 2/6/2004 San Diego Union Tribune