Medical Ads should we Ban them?

Should medical ads remain legal?

I think medical ads should be prohibited. These ads convince people that they need medications that they don't really need and they misinform potential customers. According to Marcia Angell, former editor in chief, The New England Journal of Medicine, medical ads are a bad idea. In the following quote Angell lists her reasons for disliking medical ads.

"There is this kind of marketing that is designed to convince people that they need pills... And then armed with this feeling, the consumer goes to the physician, who often just prescribes the pills... Doctors don't want to lose patients. They don't want to say no to patients... They are forced to see more and more patients more and more rapidly. It's faster to write out a prescription than it is to try to talk with [the] patient and convince the patient that he or she may have been manipulated by these ads. And in addition, the doctors themselves are manipulated by the same ads, and also by what amounts to bribery from the drug companies. The drug companies turn up. They have $8 billion worth of free samples that they give to doctors. The doctors hand out the free samples to patients. It makes the doctor look good. The patient has free samples."

The points that Angell makes in her quote support my argument that medical ads should be banned.

Supporting facts

The following are some facts that back up my opinion.

  • Medical ads are generally classified as direct-to-consumer advertising (DTC advertising). DTC advertising usually refers to the marketing of medical products. This form of advertising is directed toward patients instead of healthcare professionals.
  • US pharmaceuticals is a $395 billion industry. In 2015, the industry spent an incredible $5.2 billion on advertising prescription drugs directly to potential customers.
  • In April 2013 physicians were surveyed, and 63% of them believed that DTC prescription drug ads overemphasized the benefits of the drugs, misinforming patients.
  • The only 2 countries that have not banned DTC advertising of prescription drugs are The United States and New Zealand.
  • 74% of oncology nurses surveyed for an article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology had a patient request an inappropriate drug. 43% felt pressured to prescribe the inappropriate drug. Over half of requests for prescription drugs seen in DTC ads were prescribed by doctors.

74% of nurses had a patient request an inappropriate drug

43% of nurses felt pressured to prescribe it

Seeing medical ads on television convinces people that they have a medical condition that these drugs can fix. In reality 63% of physicians in one survey actually believed that these commercials exaggerated the benefits of the medicines, misinforming patients. They then essentially "self-prescribe" the medication by going to a doctor who will simply prescribe the drug, out of fear of losing business. This puts the power in the patients hand, instead of letting the doctors make the decision.

The following is an example of a medical ad where people might self-diagnose themselves after seeing it.


To conclude, direct-to-consumer ads are a bad idea because they cause consumers to self-diagnose, misinform patients about possible treatments, and pressure medical staff to prescribe unneeded medicines. The US is one of the 2 countries left where these ads are not banned; the laws should be changed to ban them here too.


ZeekerBolero5. "Intermezzo Commercial - Side Effects." YouTube. YouTube, 30 Jan. 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

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