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Consumer advertising

Posted by plosmedicine on 30 Mar 2009 at 23:48 GMT

Author: karl rickels
Position: Professor
Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Submitted Date: November 28, 2005
Published Date: December 6, 2005
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

The article by Lacasse and Leo demonstrates clearly how consumer advertising - in all fields of medicine, not only psychiatry - can, at the least, be misleading, making patients chose treatments that may not be the best choice in their particular circumstance. I agree with the authors that the "serotonin" hypothesis does not explain fully the mechanism of the SSRI's in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

In my clinical treatment of patients, consumer advertising is not only not helpful, but often causes significant management problems. In addition, consumer advertising only focuses on expensive patented medications and not on equallly good generic ones. A good example is the consumer advertising of "the purple pill" Nexium, while generic prilosec, equally effective in almost all patients, is not advertised.

Let's prohibit all consumer advertising of patented medications. It will save the physician much headache and the patient or his insurer a great deal of money.

Karl Rickels, MD

No competing interests declared.