Welcome to the “The Facts, STAT!”, a new, not-infrequent STAT video series in which our reporters briefly explain the need-to-know basics of issues in the world of health care and biotech. You can expect graphics, charts, and a fair amount of information over the course of about a minute.

In our first installment, we’re going to try to answer a basic question. Out of the roughly 200 countries in the entire world, the U.S. is one of just two that allows drug companies to advertise on TV. Why?

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  • It is still a TERRIBLE idea. I am sure there is lots of marketing data showing that direct-to-consumer advertising is cost-effective for certain indications/drugs, but I have a hard time believing that it is effective at all for others. I recall an ad saying “Ask your doctor about Neupogen” (?; I think it was Neupogen; I could be wrong). But shouldn’t my doctor already be aware that I have cancer and on chemotherapy? And also aware of the clinical utility of GCSF? So why would it be up to me to “ask my doctor”?

  • So Claritin ticked all the “legal” boxes and got away with it (12 words). No transcript and no closed captioning? You may have wonderful content, but I can read soooo much faster than I can watch, so count me out on the videos. I want information, not to be entertained. And, in fact, I did watch this one, just to be open-minded and the speaker delivered the information using rapid-fire speech and didn’t enunciate…not a great combination if you don’t want to watch a video three times to catch all of the information.

  • So it started with Claritin. Now, what percent of cable TV news shows are drug ads? Most fail to disclose what they are for? Isn’t the financial ability to advertise telling public drug companies push drugs? I watch NEWSY to avoid drug ads.

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