Sunday, 17 February 2008

Ask your doctor about starbursts for male pattern baldness

So, I've only been in Australia a couple of days, and feel unqualified to comment on their healthcare system as of yet.
However, enroute here from Ireland, I passed though the USA. Thankfully, I had no need to make use of their healthcare service either.
But, I did have ample opportunity to make use of the cable TV in my hotel during a 48 hour stopover in LA.
What amazed me was the amount of adverts for prescription drugs on television. All paid for by the drug companies, extoling the virtues of their particular drug, and usually rolling out some actors who claim to have used these medications.
After the actor (or sometimes genuine patient) tells you how their depression was cured by Sad-Gone, they urge viewers to "ask your doctor" about this wonder drug.
Almost invariably, this is followed by a guy speed-reading a disclaimer "drug X is not suitable for everyone. Side effects include liver failure, kidney failure, yellow teeth, arse falling off, cardiac failure, blindness and spontaneous gingerness".
I was flabbergasted. Evidence? Who gives a flying fuck about evidence when you have a happy post-coital elderly couple lying on a bed thanking humanity for viagra or cialis. They're right there in front of you, ON THE TV FOR GODSSAKE, so it must work.
So, what does the panel think? Is this fundamentally ethically wrong? Or are drug companies empowering patients?
I personally find the concept of a pharmaceutical company peddling drugs to people who usually have no access to data about the drug, or do not have the tools to interpret this data, pretty uncomfortable.
Also, are GPs in the states over-run by patients demanding a drug they saw on FOX TV?
I'd be very interested in peoples' thoughts.

Dr. Thunder


  1. "Is this fundamentally ethically wrong?"

    Answer: YES!

    Why? Because a lot of these medications are available online for patients to access without any medical consultation.

    I'm totally against going down that route. Medical advice might be pricey but it's worth every penny when your life depends on it!

    Rock on! Dr.Thunder

  2. Yes, it is wrong.
    Please see our campaign site,, with more on this.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. It's wrong.

    It's raising expectation and profile of products without balance through focusing equal time on treatement emergent adverse events and details of failure rate/NNT.

    Much badness.

  4. welcome to Oz. you will note the quality of our tv is a bit shite, but at least we don't flog meds, right?
    Look forward to hearing more about your adventures in Australia.

  5. Yes it's wrong...

    I have also heard that OTC medicine could "hide" several symptoms and could be a problem for the doctor who is trying to make a diagnosis.

    Or is this too much?

  6. lol so we're all agreed it's wrong then? :P

    I'm not sure why it's tolerated. I imagine it gives patients a sense of empowerment. But a the shrink says there's never a mention of a NTN analysis in these ads.

    I think banning OTC meds woud be a tad harsh. I can't thnk of any instances where by I've seen disease masked by them to an extent where it made the diagnosis impossible. But it's a possibility. I definitely take your point.

    Thanks for the comments, guys.

    Dr Thunder