Patient No More

  • by: |
  • 02/05/2007
I was struck by the petulance of the response of Kurt Strange, the Annals of Family Medicine's editor in response to John Kamp's letter criticizing a "content analysis" of DTC ads (one person's opinion of TV ads in plain English):

DTC ads are a "tremendous intrusion" into the clinician-patient relationship, he said.

These ads "suck precious time, motivation and energy from the patient visit, forcing clinicians to educate patients about why a slickly promoted drug is not as important as a less sexy lifestyle change or even a cheaper but equally effective alternative medication.

Two insights can be gleaned from this temper tantrum:

Strange would have been, is or was a lousy and imperious physician that takes any questions from patients a direct challenge to his authority. The scenario he sets up of patients coming in asking for a drug instead of a lifestyle change or a generic drug is a fantasy. As if everyone who needs medication is either taking it or taking it properly or if patients come in just asking for a drug without a diagnosis!

The idea that educating patients is not part of the physician's duty ultimately reflects the elitist and authoritarian view of Strange and his ilk. I am not a big fan of DTC ads in general but I would rather get information on my own than instruction from a physician who regards educating patients about new medicines he or she may have found out about on their own as a waste of time or as a sign of stupidy...

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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