The debate as to whether prescriptiondrugs should be subject to TV advertisements has long been rolling on, though with the American Medical Association recently voting to advocate the ban of such adverts, it seems one side of the debate may just be gaining more traction.
The two sides of the debate are of course highly nuanced, but broadly speaking they boil down thusly; proponents of advertising say it allows a larger number of people to receive healthcare for conditions they may have otherwise ignored or felt too embarrassed to seek treatment for. Those against the idea say that the cost of advertising drives up the cost of the medication and the greater exposure leads to higher instances of misdiagnosis.
Somewhat unfortunately this isn’t an issue with a beautifully toothsome black and white ‘right’ answer; I have to confess the fact that I can absolutely see where both sides are coming from.
Ultimately though, I don’t believe that outright banning something is ever the appropriate solution to improving a situation. While I understand and agree with the argument that increased advertising costs are likely going to be something pharmaceutical companies are going to want to recoup through increased pricing, I feel this is an issue that is better solved through proper regulation rather than simply banning the whole concept.
The fact is that I just don’t feel babying the greater population and saying to them that they aren’t smart enough to accurately decide for themselves whether or not an advertisement is worth following up on is going to improve things. There are always stories of mass hysteria and people believing ridiculous things just because they have seen them on TV, but I just have more faith in people than that and a few isolated incidents should not affect the whole.
The more I think about this issue the less in favour I grow of simply banning such advertisements. It seems like doing so will only serve to take awareness and conversation about important health issues further out of the public consciousness when we really need to be doing what we can to increase their presence.
I am however in favour of tighter and properly enforced regulations that ensure pharmaceutical companies aren’t allowed to overestimate intended effects of certain drugs in order to push more people to buy them.
It seems to be that with proper regulation you get to enjoy the benefits proposed by both sides of the debate, whereas simply banning them altogether or allowing pharmaceutical companies to advertise however they please will only lead to more problems than solutions.