Archive for the 'Healthcare reform' Category


Limit Advertising Spent on Prescription Drugs?

I just read the New York Times article, Lawmakers Seek to Curb Drug Commercials.

As a healthcare marketer, I believe that there should be some limits on direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs, but I also believe many of those limits are already in place. I disagree with the politicians’ assessment that these ads push people to use drugs unnecessarily or buy name brands rather than generics.

Prescription drugs are just what their name implies, prescription required.  While it is the marketer’s job to present information on drugs and their benefits to the public, it is a physician’s job to explain the pros and cons of any drug, the alternatives to the drug and provide the prescription if/when warranted.  Physicians may not enjoy the demands from their patients that are provoked by drug commercials, but it can’t be any worse than constant self-diagnosis based on the wealth of medical information available on the Internet. Consumers have a right to drug information and have the ability to make decisions on their medical needs. Physicians have the responsibility to guide them in those decisions.

I am also a proponent of drug-based advertising because it can increase the treatments for conditions that individuals may ignore. I am sure that many men and women have seen an ad for a drug that pushed them to receive treatment for something they were previously too embarrassed to discuss, such as erectile dysfunction or bladder control.

I do recognize the criticism from some lawmakers on the money spent for national consumer ads, especially when you see ads such as the Brooke Shields advertisement for Latisse, a prescription treatment for eyelash growth. While I am sure many people can benefit from this product, on the surface, the advertisement does seem slightly trivial.

What do you think? As a healthcare marketer, are you for more limits on direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertisements?


Harry and Louise, Still Talking About Healthcare

Harry and Louise are iconic figures in the world of healthcare policy advertising. These two actors have played numerous roles in policy ads for more than a decade. Most notoriously, they helped derail the healthcare system overhaul proposed under Bill Clinton. And now they are back, but with a different message. This time Harry and Louis are pushing a message promoting the healthcare overhaul proposed by President Obama.

This situation brings up mixed emotions in me. From an advertising point of view, the fact that the two same actors, still in their same roles, continue to be advocates for or against a healthcare issue is fascinating, especially since they have a different message this time.

But will it matter? Does anyone care that these same two paid actors are still talking about healthcare reform, albeit with a different message? Will we listen to them again?

The ads, sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, debuted this past weekend at the same time news reports came trickling out with dissension among politicians. It remains to be seen what will happen, but I am skeptical Harry and Louise’ message will be heard as loudly as it did in the past. With the proliferation of online media sources, I wonder if the ads will have the same effect this time around.

To be honest, I don’t like the Harry and Louise ads. I didn’t like the ones that ran against the healthcare reform measures in 1993 and 1994 either. While the message is different, in both instances the ads are clearly short on facts, substance and consequences. Of course, such is the way of political and policy advertising. And while I strongly support and believe the benefits of both advertising and public relations, I am hoping that through public relations we can get better information on the healthcare reform topic than the Harry and Louise ads are providing.

What do you think? Do Harry and Louise still wield influence?

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