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Drug advertisement
Science and Health:
Science for Sale?
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Until recently, prescription drug companies promoted their products exclusively to healthcare professionals. Less than 20 years ago, manufacturers began to produce ads targeted to consumers. The question of whether direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs is good or bad for the public has been frequently debated in the medical community. In a PREVENTION magazine story published in 2001, 32 percent of consumers who have seen a DTC advertisement have talked with their doctor about an advertised medicine. Some doctors argue that direct-to-consumer advertising makes consumers aware of their options, educates the public about drug side effects and informs them about new treatments. On the other side, doctors opposed to DTC drug advertising complain that these ads intentionally blur the distinction between (1) providing educational information to promote better healthcare and (2) seeking profits.

SCIENCE FOR SALE? examines the role that advertising agencies are now taking in prescription drug development. This practice of conducting studies and recruiting patients builds a relationship between the ad agency interested in landing a campaign and the drug makers even before they receive FDA approval for their product.

These new developments in the pharmaceutical industry have made it more important than ever for consumers to talk to their doctors and pharmacists about their prescriptions and to educate themselves about using medications wisely.

Pharmaceutical Advertising Resources:

Prescription Drugs and Wise Use of Medications
Prescription drugs can be an expensive part of health care. The AARP Web site offers advice on how to lower your costs as well as use medication wisely with several simple tips.

Scandal of Scientists Who Take Money for Papers Ghostwritten by Drug Companies
The Guardian reports on the growing trend of scientists lending their names to articles endorsing new medications in return for money from the pharmaceutical industry. The article addresses the many conflicts of interest between drug researchers and industry that can make objective, scientific assessment of new pharmaceuticals difficult.

Torre Lazur - McCann Healthcare Worldwide
Torre Lazur - McCann Healthcare Worldwide helps launch new healthcare products for all different specialties within the healthcare industry. The site provides an overview of the corporation's operations, staff, and missions.

Uneasy Alliance: Clinical Investigators and the Pharmaceutical Industry
Dr. Thomas Bodenheimer, featured in SCIENCE FOR SALE? asks "Does the shift from the academic to the commercial research sector give industry too much control over clinical drug trials?", drawing on academic studies and interviews with industry professionals.

Sources: American Council on Science and Health and U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

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