Annal-yze This!

  • by: |
  • 01/30/2007
Advertising is really a fancy word for calling attention to yourself, which is what the "authors" of a study -- more of a review of TV commercials -- in that prestigious medical journal the Annals of Family Medicine really is.

The article is entitled "Creating Demand for Prescription Drugs: A Content Analysis of Television Direct to Consumer Advertising." Translation: we Tivo'd a lot episodes of 24, CSI Miami and American Idol as a pretext to make fun of those silly drug ads and get some media attention.

Here's what Dominick Frosch the lead (I am trying not to laugh when I write this ) author of this "study" concluded from his "content analysis":

All of the ads … contained elements that we considered problematic. I think consumers should be more skeptical of the pharmaceutical ads than some surveys find they are."

Ya think Dominick? You mean the fact that jokes about Viagra ads and the warnings about how drugs to certain urinary incontinence in man cause your breasts to swell isn't content analysis enough.

Here's what I consider problematic: Dominick's previous 'scholarship' on the subject of risk communication and what to tell patients who might have a serious disease. Dominick has devoted himself to exploring whether videos or the internet or discussion groups or talking to your doctor are more effective in getting people to stop smoking, get a prostate exam, lose weight, etc. Seems as though there is no clear answer and Dominick never compares advertising of any sort to these other approaches. So how does he know if, as he told Rita Rubin's USA Today: "they leave a lot to be desired in terms of providing useful educational information to consumers."

Maybe they do. But at least the guys in the gym remember the stupid Viagra ads and know what's Viagra's for. And if you want to promote prostate screening would you do it with Dominick Forsch with a video on PBS or Paris Hilton during halftime at the Superbowl.

That's the difference between PSA's (pun intended) and advertising.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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