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Prescription Drug Ads
Drive Up U.S. Health Costs
[Oct 13, 2009]
NPR reports on how prescription drug
advertising drives up consumer demand, which
drives up medical costs.
The story, done in partnership with the
public radio program,
This American Life, is the third in a
three-part series about why American health
care costs are so high.
"Prescription drug spending is the third
most expensive cost in the U.S. health care
system. The average American gets 12
prescriptions a year, and this number only
seems to grow larger."
Estimates from the Nielsen Company indicate
"there's an average of 80 drug ads every
hour of every day on American television.
And those ads clearly produce results:
'Something like a third of consumers who've
seen a drug ad have talked to their doctor
about it,' says Julie Donohue, a professor
of public health at the University of
Pittsburgh who is considered a leading
expert on this subject.
'About two-thirds of those have asked for a
prescription. And the majority of people who
ask for a prescription have that request
honored.' Whether the increase in the number
of prescription drugs taken is good or bad
for patient health is an open question.
There's evidence on both sides.
What's not up for debate is this: By taking
their case to patients instead of doctors,
drug companies increased the amount of money
we spend on medicine in America" (Spiegel,