At The Health Care Blog, Maggie Mahar points out a disturbing reason why drugs companies hit the airwaves — because docs aren't responding to the direct pressure.
In other words drugmakers are going directly to the consumer at a time when their products are, indeed “at the margins of evidence-based medicine.” Experience with drugs like Vioxx has taught many doctors to take a wait-and-see attitude toward remedies that have not yet been widely used by the general population. Unless the “new, new thing” is likely to save lives, many prefer to wait until more evidence has come in about risks versus benefits before turning their patients into guinea pigs.
Meanwhile, the NEJM reports, drugmakers have stepped up their campaign to market their wares to laymen. From 1996 to 2005 spending on DTC promotions has grown more than three-fold, spiraling from $985 million to $4.237 billion.
And the crazy part is, of course, it works. (Much of the direct-to-doc sales pitch works, too — let there be no mistake.)
Hrm … health care premiums just jumped by double digits in MA … again. Drug costs may or may not be the major drivers behind the increase, but surely, any responsible cost-control effort has to address pharma marketing. Health Care For All has some ideas in its cost control agenda (pdf), but most of these measures target marketing direct to docs. The problem may well be the consumers who want magic pretty pills — even if they're snake oil.
And more generally … Hey legislators: It's either continued fiscal ruin for the Commonwealth's cities and towns; more property tax increases and bitter Prop 2 1/2 battles; and a new health care law blowing up (again); or, you can deal with costs, boldly and decisively. Choose.