Direct To Consumer (DTC) – Pill-Pushing Debate

As the name implies, DTC is a method of advertisement that drug companies are allowed to use in order to inform potential customers on the strengths and some times the weaknesses of a particular drug. DTC is only legalized in USA and New Zealand, but over the years there have been heated debates on whether to ban it or put some restrictions to govern it.

A study was carried out by the Department of Human and Health Services in collaboration with Government Accountability office (GAO)to investigate its impact on the American public, some the main ethical issues that were unearthed are that; DTC has got both positive impacts on the public, positive being that it educates consumers, helps to get patients into needed treatment, and saves money by reducing on other medical car, while its negative side was quoted as being misleading to consumers and encourage inappropriate increases in prescription drug use and creates unnecessary costs for the U. S health system.

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However, DTC advertising is unique method, no wonder it is only practiced in USA and New Zealand and therefore it should not be judged the same way other methods of advertising. This is due to its direct impact on the consumers, for instance consumers get first hand information over the TVs, Radios, Magazines, and Newspapers which prompt them to visit or conduct pharmaceutical outlets for purchase.
Therefore DTC adverts should be first vetted by the concerned body e. g. FDA in the US, these bodies will ensure that DTC adverts are not misleading or volatile to the potential consumers. The use of DTC by drugs companies is important in disseminating and educating the consumers on the available drugs in the market that can cure their ailments. Banning the method would deprive the consumers of worthwhile knowledge on drugs, therefore there is need to streamline the system in order to guarantee authenticity of the information that reaches the consumers.
This was reached by the GAO in the year 2002 when it brought in the letter regulatory policy whereby all DTC materials are supposed to be vetted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before reaching the public. Any volatile or misleading materials are banned from being disseminated to the public. References: • DTC advertising study by, GAO, 2006, available at; http://www. gao. gov/htext/d0754. html. accessed on November 3, 2008

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