Who needs doctors when you can diagnose yourself?

CBS News reported that drug firms have dramatically increased their spending on television advertising to consumers.  Direct-to-consumer advertising has had a huge impact over consumers in the last few years. pills.jpg

 From a PR perspective:

1. Companies should focus more on educating their consumers. There seem to be a lot of commercials that say “2 out of 3 doctors” recommend a prescription drug.  Hmmmm, I wonder how many doctors were asked and who they were?  With more truthful information people will be able to make an educated decision on whether or not they should even ask their doctor if they need a drug. 

2. Create a Web site and promote that.  Sure, some drug companies can tell the mass media to ask their doctors, but why not let them find out more?  Let consumers know that they can visit a Web site to find out more information about a drug that could give them better health.

3.  Provide literature.  Yep, believe it or not, some people are still not tech savvy and do not go to the Internet for information.  So provide a toll-free number and let consumers ask for brochures or more literature.

4.  Give them alternatives.  I’m not a doctor, but I know there are simple ways to help cure common sicknesses like a cold.  Let people know that vitamin C could help them relieve their cold symptoms.  Drug companies should let them know that taking a prescription medicine is not the only way to cure some sicknesses. doctor.jpg

From a different perspective, I understand that some people could argue that direct-to-consumer advertising prescription medicines could be informational for those who would like to be more involved in their health care.  I understand that some people might not be aware they need a drug in the first place until they see a commercial.

However, I do believe that this could be a nuisance to doctors.   It could become a huge waste of time in a doctors office explaining why a patient is not being prescribed Nexium even though they had seen the commercial and swear it’s right for them. 

I think that drug companies should be very careful when advertising to consumers.  I believe some people might start to believe they could have graduated from medical school and can prescribe themselves.  Consumers should seek as much information as they can before diagnosing themselves, including asking your doctor. 

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38 Responses to Who needs doctors when you can diagnose yourself?

  1. Michele Ewing says:

    Nicole,

    You raised some interesting points. I spent numerous years working on communications campaigns designed to educate audiences about healthcare topics. An important message in these campaigns conveyed that consumers should be proactive and learn about the prevention and treatment of health problems. AND, the consumers should partner with their physicians to work together. Communications professionals who work in healthcare have the responsibility to educate audiences about the importance of consulting their physicians.

  2. healthypr says:

    You’re right. I am glad that there are people out there who care enough to inform consumers the importance of consulting their physicians. I think there is a gap between what a commercial says and what a doctor says. People who diagnose themselves because of a commercial could potentially become harmed. They could possibly hide other symptoms and only tell the docs the symptoms needed to diagnose the drug.

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