-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, March 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Patient requests for
specific drugs have a major influence on the medicines prescribed
by doctors, a new study suggests.
The findings raise questions and concerns about how
direct-to-consumer advertising for brand-name drugs affects
medicine safety and costs, the researchers said.
The study authors created videos of actors who portrayed
patients with two common, painful conditions. One was sciatica that
caused back and leg pain, and the other was arthritis that caused
In the videos, half of the "patients" with sciatica specifically
requested a strong narcotic painkiller called oxycodone, and half
of those with knee pain asked for the prescription drug Celebrex.
The others requested "just something to make it better."
The videos were shown to 192 primary care doctors, who were then
asked how they would treat the patients. About 20 percent of the
sciatica patients who asked for oxycodone would have received it,
compared with 1 percent of those who made no specific request, the
The researchers noted that strong narcotic painkillers such as
oxycodone are not generally recommended for sciatica.
About half of the knee arthritis patients who asked for Celebrex
would have received it, compared with one-quarter of those who made
no specific request. Celebrex is much more expensive than other
drug options and provides no additional benefit, said study leader
John McKinlay, of New England Research Institutes, and
The authors said their findings, published in the April issue of
Medical Care, highlight the potential negative effects of
direct-to-consumer advertising of drugs via so-called "Ask Your
The United States is one of only two countries that allow this
type of controversial marketing, according to a journal news
"Supporters defend the practice as a way to empower consumers, while opponents argue that commercially motivated messages leads to inappropriate patient requests for medication," Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, deputy editor of Medical Care, said in the news release.
"In order to resolve this debate, more research is needed to determine the effects of [direct-to-consumer] advertising on patient and physician behavior, especially how it affects prescribing decisions and health outcomes," he said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about
direct-to-consumer drug ads.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.