A research team from Brown University has reviewed the effects of advertising psychiatric drugs for various psychiatric conditions. This was published online in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
Most of the countries ban the advertisement of prescription drugs, however since the relaxation of U.S. guidelines from 1997, these drugs are commonly found everywhere in the American media.
‘Number of people were found to request doctors for prescribing psychiatric drugs even for mild depression due to advertisements.’
Sara Becker, lead author of the study and research assistant professor at Brown University School of Public Health and Warren Alpert Medical School said that "On a basic level, the goal of our review was to begin addressing an important and rarely examined public health question,"
"Is this enormous multibillion dollar industry of direct-to-consumer advertising of psychiatric medication affecting public health in a positive or negative way? There are many possible ways to answer this question -- we began by taking a close look at patient and physician behavior in response to these ads."
Drugs for mood disorders and other psychiatric conditions have become the most popular drugs that are advertised and sold in the pharmacies and hence the question raised is applicable to psychiatry.
Becker and co-author Miriam Midoun found four research studies that analyzed the effects of psychiatric drug advertisements on doctors and patients. These studies focused on advertising psychiatric medicines, prescribing behavior on patients, and doctor - patient interaction.
Study focused on a randomized controlled trial conducted in 2005 stated that patients asked for a specific brand of the drug after watching advertisements in television in which actors were posed as patients presented to doctors with different degrees of depression. This increased the rate of prescribing drugs even to patients who did not require the drug.
The other three studies including a 2003 article compared the prescribing rates of the drug in Canada, to rates in the United States. The number of U.S. patients who requested for advertised drugs were doubled when compared to Canadian patients.
The studies suggest that most doctors prescribe medicines as per the patient requests, observation of three studies said that medications are hardly prescribed based on doctor - patient discussions. And less than 10% of the study suggest that patients request for advertised drugs.
Prescribing drugs for patients based on their requests has raised a question on whether the right treatment occurs for the right patient. The randomised controlled trial was found to provide some details for the issue.
The author of the study said that patients with severe depression were more likely to get the drug and patients with mild or moderate depression who did not require medicines were also found to take the drug which could cause problem.
The limited evidence collected from the data appears to support that Direct to Consumer Advertising (DTCA) might affect the quality of treatment. The author also said that DTCA might increase the overprescribing rate for patients who do not require the drug.
The editor of Annals of Family Medicine referred DTCA of prescription drugs to be a uncontrolled public health experiment on American people in 2007. And this current review was found to support this statement. However, according to the author only few studies were able to support DTCA and further research is required.