The Huffington Post posted a piece a few days ago by Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, about pharmaceutical commercials, and quite honestly, I found myself nodding in agreement throughout much of it especially when he listed the three reasons why he worries about direct-to-consumer marketing. Dr. Weil writes (emphasis mine):
1. Drug ads strengthen our belief in pharmaceutical drugs as the cures for all of our problems. In fact, the consequences of poor lifestyle choices cannot be undone with pills.
2. Many advertised drugs are not only ineffective, but have serious side effects that are frequently played down (and occasionally concealed) by manufacturers. Because heavily advertised drugs have such vast profit potential, political and financial interests collude to speed them to market before they have received sufficient scientific scrutiny.
3. Ads circumvent better sources of information and make people believe that they are being proactive about their health when they request an advertised drug. Thirty-second TV spots that trade on emotion and celebrity contribute little or nothing of value to patient education.
There are no wonder pills, no magic eraser for not taking care of yourself through proper diet, exercise, and rest (sleeping and slowing down while awake). Medicines have real side effects, and while in a trauma situation, they might be necessary for your (or my) situation, but one of my goals with my health is to avoid them by properly caring for my body to maintain its health and wellness.
In my opinion (and the opinion of many others) drug companies are not out for a cure, and it is not in their best interest to keep anyone healthy. They need for the population to be sick and want to continue to band-aid medical problems in order to increase their profit. Why would I be so doubteful? Dr. Weil points out one reason-- " In 2004, American drug companies spent 24.4% of their sales revenue on promotion, versus just 13.4% for research and development." -- but there are many.
Unfortunately most of the current health care system in the United States is not focused on prevention and wellness. Doctors are not educated on prevention. I see this in their poor breastfeeding advice and over-willingness to prescribe a pill or perform surgery instead of discussing prevention.
What do you think? Are you focused on prevention or triage?