Prescription Drug Ads Drive Up U.S. Health Costs
NPR reports on how prescription drug advertising drives up consumer demand, which drives up medical costs. The story, done in partnership with the public radio program, This American Life, is the third in a three-part series about why American health care costs are so high. "Prescription drug spending is the third most expensive cost in the U.S. health care system. The average American gets 12 prescriptions a year, and this number only seems to grow larger."
Estimates from the Nielsen Company indicate "there's an average of 80 drug ads every hour of every day on American television. And those ads clearly produce results: 'Something like a third of consumers who've seen a drug ad have talked to their doctor about it,' says Julie Donohue, a professor of public health at the University of Pittsburgh who is considered a leading expert on this subject. 'About two-thirds of those have asked for a prescription. And the majority of people who ask for a prescription have that request honored.' Whether the increase in the number of prescription drugs taken is good or bad for patient health is an open question. There's evidence on both sides. What's not up for debate is this: By taking their case to patients instead of doctors, drug companies increased the amount of money we spend on medicine in America" (Spiegel, 10/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.