David Lazarus claims that direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising results in “forcing physicians to respond to people’s demands for heavily touted drugs.” (“Ads spur urge for drugs,” Consumer Confidential, Feb. 6.)
Actually, physicians have a government-granted monopoly on prescribing drugs, and no patient can “force” a physician to do anything. Rather, research on physicians’ behavior shows that they tend to interrupt quickly while their patients describe symptoms.
Such advertising not only falls under the constitutional protection of free speech, but is also symptomatic of a competitive and innovative pharmaceutical market.
John R. Graham
Director, Health Care Studies
Pacific Research Institute