Tuesday, December 19, 2006

TV Drug Ads Under Review

I'm shocked. Nobody’s Senator makes the news. Herb Kohl is ready to curtail the drug ads interrupting our entertainment with images of dysfunctional body functions.

DRUG ADS: KILL THE MESSENGER? Ads just give us choices. Yet when Congress reconvenes next month, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) is expected to file legislation to ban or severely limit ads for prescription drugs. … The idea is that consumers simply can't be trusted to confer with their doctors to make informed decisions about their own health care.

We all know the drill. Ask your doctor if the most expensive pill may be right for you! The onslaught of consumer direct prescription drug marketing begins in 1997 when the Clinton Administration FDA drops the requirement for full disclosure and adopts partial disclosure guidelines for broadcast media. The issue lodges directly at the intersection where first amendment free speech butts up against the duty of government to protect the public.

Full disclosure requires pharmaceutical companies to divulge every bit of verbiage the agency approves when granting U.S. marketing rights to a product. This includes all the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, dosing guidelines and clinical testing details. Since this volume of information is unworkable for 30 second airway spots, the government agrees companies can skip the details of first order kinetics and elimination half lives and proceed directly to the fact that nausea and flatulence are reported side effects. In this sense the decision leans in the direction of free speech, as awful as free speech can be sometimes.

The Democrats desperately want legislative achievements in health care policy so it is no surprise everything even remotely touching on the cost of fixing what ails you is under review. Protecting what is good in American medicine is now completely the task of the Republicans. The good doctor at ShrinkWrapped reminds us this is serious duty.

Stupid Politician Tricks: Today's extremely expensive medicine is tomorrow's cheap cure. We should all encourage the drug companies to make fantastic amounts of money. The more incentive they have to find new and more effective medications, the better for all of us.

The leading edge of any technology is always more expensive than eventual mass production of the proven successes. Politicians will try and obscure the difference between the patent protected and generic drug markets, so it is important to remember that those cheap $4.00 a bottle pills at Wal-Mart were the most expensive things on the market in their heyday.