DTC? ITP? What's the 4-1-1?

  • by: |
  • 08/06/2007
One of the biggest complaints about DTC pharmaceutical advertising is that it doesn't give patients (aka: consumers) enough information about either the advertised medicine or about the disease under discussion. Now there's a new twist -- consumers (aka: patients) have access to too much information.

In Europe, where there is no pharmaceutical advertising, the debate is about "information to patients," or "ITP."

But no matter what you call it, there's tremendous value in reading a very thought-provoking article in the Baltimore Sun ...

"At a time when more information than ever is broadly available about illnesses and the effects - positive and negative - of the drugs used to treat them, doctors and patients are facing a growing challenge as they attempt to sort out the benefits and risks of medications and therapies.

Every week, professional journals and other sources report the results of new medical studies - a rising tide of information that sometimes seems contradictory. Patients can read the studies on the Internet, or read about them in newspapers, and bombard their doctors with questions that frequently don't have simple answers.

So many patients go on the Internet now and with what the press bombards them with, they have a lot of information. They need to be able to understand the literature, so they can take it to the doctor and ask informed questions, said Erik Rifkin, a retired environmental consultant and co-author of The Illusion of Certainty, a new book that argues for increased clarity in the reporting of medical research.

Rifkin and his co-author, Edward J. Bouwer, both of whom live in Baltimore, say researchers should state findings in terms that are easier to understand. Statistics used in studies - and repeated in news reports - are often misleading, they say."

Here is a link to the article:


Is more information better? It depends who you ask. According to one patient interviewed for the Sun story, ""I got so much information that I had to quit because with the Internet, there was so much out there." And that was someone searching for information about a condition that predisposed him to cancer.

Too much? Too little? Too complicated? Too simplified?

Too important not to debate and discuss.

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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