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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 6907

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Holmer AF.
Direct-to-consumer advertising: Education or anathema? [reply]
JAMA 1999 Oct 6; 282:(13):1227-1228


Alper implies that DTC advertising has changed the traditional patient-physician relationship. I believe DTC advertising is a product of the force changing the relationship, the information revolution. 74% of consumers see DTC advertising as a way to help people become more involved in their own health care. I did not hint that physicians share in the wealth created by DTC advertising. The rise in the share of the health care dollar allocated to pharmaceuticals should be attributed not to DTC advertising but to the fact that health care professionals are turning increasingly to cost-effective drugs to improve outcomes. Rosner and colleagues fail to acknowledge the value of DTC advertising in addressing the documented problems of underdiagnosis and undertreatment. They do not document the alleged potential harm of DTC advertising. Instead, they call for a ban on it, and additional policing by the FDA which does not need additional authority.

*letter to the editor/United States/


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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909