One of the things I've always believed in very strongly is empowering people to make their own choices about their health. This is not as simple as offering a patient a choice of drugs, but giving them the information they need to choose between drugs and an alternative.
I've found that people are quite capable of deciding on their own when they have enough information. That old saying "knowledge is power" is true.
The problem right now is with many of those TV ads we're always being forced to watch… the ones where Hollywood doctors or silky narrators sell America on drugs they claim will cure everything from chronic heartburn to restless legs.
Now, if you're like me you can't help but laugh at some of these ads, especially that quick list of possible side effects the FDA forces them to tell you about.
Once the chuckles stop, however, you might find yourself wondering if maybe you have, say, a restless leg. Was that just a common muscle twitch, or do you need medication? Better ask your doctor.
And that's where they get you.
See, studies show that once you ask your doctor about a drug, you're likely to get that prescription. And next thing you know, you're on the Big Pharma train to nowhere. All because you were misinformed by some slick ad.
So what's the solution? Well, a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that when ads were required to include fact boxes comparing the drug to a rival, patients made better choices.
But this study didn't quite go far enough. It provided fact boxes that allowed patients to choose between two drugs. Imagine how much better it would be if those fact boxes provided a non-drug alternative? Some of these FDA-approved prescription drugs have proven to be barely better than placebo, and less effective than natural cures or lifestyle changes.
Wouldn't that be worth knowing?
Personally, I'd love the irony of it. Big Pharma would have to pay for their ads to include information that they're usually trying to hide.
I'm guessing we might start seeing less of these "wonder drug" ads. And that would be just fine with me.