Watch any of the major networks for long enough and you’ll probably see a dozen advertisements for medicine that ask you to “talk to your doctor about drug X” if you have any of the conditions or symptoms it’s supposed to treat. These are advertisements for prescription medication; drugs too strong to buy over-the-counter; controlled substances that are illegal to buy or sell without a prescription. Every year, the amount of written prescriptions rises, even as more studies indicate that the diagnosis rates for things like fibromyalgia and ADHD are higher than the actual proportion of sufferers.
The problem with these advertisements is not that they are factually inaccurate (though they don’t always tell the whole truth), it’s that they exist. The whole point of having a doctor is so that they, with the sum of their knowledge and experience, can prescribe what’s right for you, the patient, who doesn’t have the benefit of a medical education. You need a doctor to get a prescription because prescription drugs can be extremely dangerous. These advertisements provide a brief summary of what the medication treats and its most common side effects, but there are dozens of things that doctors need to consider before recommending and prescribing medications.
The advertisements encourage patients to treat their doctor like a pharmacy that sells over-the-counter drugs, and sometimes, in order to keep patients, doctors are perfectly happy to act like that. It’s unsafe, and it’s immoral for these advertisements to be played. Leave medicine to the doctors.