Advertising Prescription Drugs And The United States

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If you have ever watched TV in America you are aware of “direct-to consumer" (DTC) advertising for prescription drugs. These are ads provided by drug companies in the intent to educate the general public on the benefits of their product. They often feature celebrities or catchy cartoons with very healthy satisfied patients. This type of advertising of prescription drugs is unique to the United States. It was one of only two countries that allows DTC advertising. New Zealand is the only other developed nation that does. If the intent is to educate the prospective consumers about their product then why do only two countries utilize the technique (“For Consumers”)?
In 1938, the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) was authorized to start
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During this time the first DTC print advertisement for Merck an “antipneumococcal vaccine, Pneumovax(pneumococcal vaccine polyvalent) was printed in Reader’s Digest (Ventola).” That created a chain effect and shortly later “Boots Pharmaceuticals ran the first DTC broadcast advertisement, which promoted the lower price of its prescription brand of ibuprofen (Rufen), compared with Motrin (Ventola).” Today, the US pharmaceutical industry spends $3.1 billion on advertising prescription drugs directly to consumers.
There are proponents of DTC prescription drug ads. They argue that “the ads inform patients about diseases and possible treatments, encourage people to seek medical advice, help remove stigma associated with medical conditions, and provide needed sales revenue to fund costly research and development (R&D) of new drugs (Drug Ads ProCon.org).” On the flip side opponents argue “that DTC drug ads misinform patients, promote drugs before long-term safety-profiles can be known, medicalize and stigmatize normal conditions and bodily functions like wrinkles and low testosterone, waste valuable medical appointment time, and have led to our society’s overuse of prescription drugs (Drug Ads ProCon.org).”
Are DTC prescription drug ads ethical? Immanuel Kant a German philosopher formulated a theory of deontological approach to ethics. It was based on moral law. Moral law is the law “we choose to follow or not, depending on whether we
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