Direct to consumer marketing

Medrants writes today:

First, I would outlaw direct to consumer marketing of prescription drugs. DTC puts physicians in a difficult situation. We do feel pressure to prescribe the medication that the patient requests. Some of us have the time and presence to resist that pressure, but many physicians are so harried that writing the prescription rather than arguing is the easy way – saving them 5 precious minutes. (And with our current system of reimbursing physicians, 5 minutes is very valuable).

Consider the recent commercials you may have seen. How about Singulair for seasonal allergies? Here is the data from UptoDate:

A number of direct comparative studies, however, have found that leukotriene modifier therapy [i.e. Singulair] may be less effective than intranasal steroids in allergic rhinitis . . . [we recommend that] nasal corticosteroids to be the first-line treatment for allergic rhinitis and all other therapies to be alternative strategies.

It is certainly not mentioned in the commercial that Singular is only good as a 2nd or 3rd line therapy for seasonal allergies. Advertisements like this only do a disservice to both patients and physicians – both of whom takes a backseat to profits on the drug companies’ list of priorities.