Drug Ads and Great Expectations.

  • by: |
  • 04/30/2007
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease"

-- Thomas A. Edison

Welcome to PiP.

For those of you drugwonks out there who aren't fans of Charles Dickens, here's the Cliffsnotes background on the literary character of the same name ...

Great Expectations is the story of Pip and his initial dreams and resulting disappointments that eventually lead to him becoming a genuinely good man. The significant changes that Pip's character goes through are very important to one of the novel's many themes. Dickens uses Pip's deterioration from an innocent boy into an arrogant gentleman and his redemption as a good-natured person to illustrate the idea that unrealistic hopes and expectations can lead to undesirable traits.

Yes, Pip as an allegory for Pharma.

Now welcome to PiP -- Personalized Information to Patients

As Congress debates the (clearly unconstitutional) idea of granting the FDA authority to ban DTC for any new drug's first two years of availability, the science of personalized medicine will ultimately make this debate meaningless.

As we attain the knowledge to prescribe the right medicine in the right dose for the right patient at the right time, patients and physicians will rely more on gene testing than product advertising. Indeed information will no longer only mean information about a medicine or a disease -- it'll mean information about your personal biochemistry -- hence Personalized Information to Patients.

In the not so distant future, ads for gene tests may very well replace and surpass those for medicines. Talk about disease awareness! Talk about early and accurate diagnosis! Talk about moving from an acute to a chronic care model!

But it needs to be more than just science talk and silly pieces of ersatz legislation. And that's where the FDA's Critical Path program comes into play.

If we want health care advertising to move beyond the current Cliffsnotes of health information -- DTC -- to the real deal -- Personalized Information to Paitents -- PiP -- we must create the regulatory tools that allow it to happen.

Otherwise it's just talk.

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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