Why Drugs Should Be Advertised, (and Supplements, Too!)

Some Democrats in Congress want to make it harder for drug makers to market their products directly to the public.   Those ads you see every night on the news, promoting this or that drug, is a relatively new phenomenon, and not without controversy.  Certainly, it has turned drugs into “products of consumer demand”.  Doctors frequently report some patients scheduling appointments for the sole purpose of asking for certain drugs they see advertised, even if their symptoms do not indicate a need.

I am a former pharmaceutical rep who is a critic of the industry.

I’m a nutritional consultant who opts to use food, supplements, and exercise for the promotion of health if at all possible.

Having said that, why does the government have to step in and regulate whether or not drug companies advertise their products on television?

One proposal is to disallow drug companies to advertise any of their products for the first two years after FDA approval.  The reason is obvious – the potential dangers of these drugs can’t be fully known until a massive number of people take them.

But, shouldn’t this raise questions about the drugs, themselves?

In other words, the FDA is approving drugs, which could end up doing serious damage to people, all while deeming them, “Safe and Effective”.  Isn’t that the real problem?

My feeling is that if a product is legal, the company making it should have the right to tell people about it, (advertise).

If it’s unsafe, or potentially unsafe, or if the only way to determine it’s safety is by subjecting the public to a massive guinea pig experiment, shouldn’t we reconsider whether it should be legal to sell in the first place?

I know that this would have implications for marketing products like cigarettes, alcohol, or even snack cakes, and though these are all potentially harmful with consistent use, I’m not in favor of taking them off the market.  I’ve never heard of anyone dying the first time they smoke or after finishing off a box of Twinkies.  However, I have heard of instances of this happening after a person takes a single dose of a medication.

Without having worked through all of the possible implications, my initial thought is that:

1).  Drugs need tighter scrutiny before they’re allowed on the market,

2).  If they are allowed on the market, it should be legal for them to be advertised,

3).  If the FDA approves a new drug and it is, in fact, dangerous, aren’t we just delaying the inevitable by blocking marketing efforts for the first two years?  Once that two-year period is over, it’s possible for massive numbers of people to begin taking it as a result of slick marketing, at which time, the mass guinea pig experiment begins, (albeit two years delayed).  But if it’s dangerous, people are still at risk, whether you delay the marketing campaign or not.

Again, a synthetic drug is a chemical, which does not normally show up in the body through food, and which the body may attempt to extricate.  Its full risk potential may not be evident until lots of people begin taking it over a period of time.  THAT is the problem.

The solution I’ve adopted is to try staying away from drugs if at all possible, and if I do need to take a drug, to try getting off of it as quickly as possible.  The only way either of these is possible is if the symptoms for which I’m taking a drug can be alleviated through nutrition. 

I’m all for reducing the overwhelming amount of drugs Americans are taking – but I’m completely against doing so by government mandate.  The ONLY government intervention I want is for the reigns to be taken off the nutrition industry, and allow supplement manufacturers to cite studies that prove the effectiveness of their ingredients. 

In other words, if you allow drug companies - which sell products that are riddled with side effects - to advertise, you should allow supplement companies the freedom to compete.




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