We've all seen the commercials telling people to ask their doctor for a certain drug. Now, six years after the FDA opened the door to TV advertising of prescriptions, there is concern that doctors are being pressured to over-prescribe medication.
Every year, millions of Americans go to their physicians asking for something they've seen on TV. That's according to several marketing survyes that show advertising is the "bottom line benefit" for drug manufacturers.
"And for every 10 people that ask for the drug by name -- eight are getting it. In real terms, that's probably about 15 million people or so," says Ed Slaughter, Rodale Publishing.
"It is of some concern that an ad would make a patient feel so confident about their own diagnosis and treatment as to make a demand for a particular drug and even to "doctor shop" until finding a willing prescriber," says Janet Woodcock, FDA.
In recent months, the FDA has sent warning letters to three drug makers challenging their advertising claims. Since then, Bristol Myers Squibb has pulled ads that the FDA claims overstate the benefit of the anti-cholesterol drug -- Pravachol.
Gilead Sciences has been told to stop calling its anti-HIV drug Viread a "miracle cure."
Novartis Pharmaceuticals -- makers of Lamisil to fight toe fungus-- have been warned about overstating the benefits and minimizing the risks.