Consumer Advertising Ethical

1 January 2017

She then pulls out a magazine and begins to turn through the pages when she find an advertisement for a prescription drug to treat migraines. This drug could ease her pain and let her resume her normal activities. Is it wrong for her to see this ad? Absolutely not. ?Sharing information with the public about possible cures is morally right. Withholding information that can save someone’s life is morally wrong.

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Direct advertising to consumers of pharmaceutical drugs is ethical based on a deontological perspective. Kant considered what is “right” over what is “good” to be  superior (wikipedia). In the case of direct-to-consumer drug advertising, the right of sharing information about cures and possible ailments outweighs any possible “good” that can be made on behalf of the advertisers. It does not matter that the advertising companies and the pharmaceutical companies will make money off of the patients purchasing the drugs.

What is most important is sharing the knowledge with those patients. When the general public is presented with information about pharmaceutical drugs not only are they given information about something that can provide treatments for symptoms they may be having, but it also informs them about what certain groupings of symptoms may be. For example, a person having strange pains in his/her legs and doesn’t know what it is and might not seek medical attention. However, if he/she sees an advertisement on television that describes those exact symptoms he/she is experiencing, the advertisement would give the ailment a possible name.

This information could help that person when he/she goes to see his/her doctor. The patient can describe what he/she is experiencing and tell the doctor about the ad that made him/her think there was a reason to visit the doctor for treatment. Some cases will be serious and others will be minor, this is not important. What is important is that the public was granted this information in an easily accessible format – the advertisement. ?The United States and New Zealand are the only two developed countries that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceutical drugs (DeGeorge 320).

Health care works differently in the U. S. than in other parts of the world like Europe and Canada. Because of the major differences in health care, DTC is more welcomed in these countries than in others. Here in the U. S. many people are paying for their own health care out of pocket unlike other places where it is provided at no cost. In other countries you don’t have to worry about whether or not you can afford to go to the doctor and/or pay for the visit and prescriptions. DTC advertising is more welcomed in the U. S. because people want to feel empowered and be given choices.

Here there are a lot of options because people pay for what they think they need even if it is not the best option for them. ?People make decisions based on what they are convinced they need. In the U. S. you, or your insurance that you most likely pay for, have to pay for every lab and every doctor visit. So in the U. S. many people would rather treat symptoms than fix a problem. DTC advertising knows this and uses it to their advantage. Canadian Medical Association president Henry Haddad, M. D. stated, “The message U. S. consumers are getting is that pharmaceuticals are simply consumer commodities rather than complex therapeutics.

We think that interferes with the physician–patient relationship by raising the expectations of patients and pressuring physicians to prescribe drugs. ” (Fintor) This is a prime example of why other developed nations are not proponents of DTC advertising. ?When you look at direct-to-consumer advertising based on a utilitarian perspective it would be considered morally wrong. In utilitarianism you can only judge something’s moral value once you know all of the consequences (wikipedia). This means that every consequence needs to be examined and weighed.

As a result of DTC advertising of pharmaceutical drugs, not only is the pubic informed about illnesses and a variety of ways to treat said illnesses, but also a plethora of other consequences that add negatively to the moral value of the action. ?One negative consequence to seriously consider is the money that is gained by pharmaceutical companies, advertisers, and doctors. Money will drive people to do almost anything regardless if it is morally right or wrong. When consumers see an advertisement for a drug they might try to identify with the ad and feel it necessary to visit their doctor.

Once they visit the doctor they will claim to have symptoms that were described in the advertisement and then ask for a prescription to the drugs that were shown. Once the doctor prescribes these drugs the money is gained by all the involved parties and is lost by the patients. ?Many of the drugs prescribed have harmful side-effects that are downplayed by the advertisements. It’s all about the money and not the well-being of the patients.

This is clearly displayed in a study that showed that a pharmaceutical company saw a return of $4. 0 for every dollar spent on advertising (DeGeorge 319). That’s an incredible 420% percent profit margin. With profits like that it’s easy to understand why the moral consequences have been ignored. It would be morally wrong for people to take advantage of consumers and capitalize on their illnesses. If the pharmaceutical companies were really all about informing the public about illnesses and treatments they would do it without receiving any money. Taking away the profit aspect of the pharmaceutical world would change the advertising and probably the drugs themselves.

With no profits involved there would not be the push that there is to find something that could work to treat an illness regardless of the consequences. Scientists would strive to find treatments that would help people and not harm them; this is the basis of utilitarianism, weighing all of the good and the bad.

In conclusion, direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceutical drugs has both positive and negative consequences. Do I believe people making money off of the misfortune of others is right? No. However, I do believe is our duty to inform and educate people about illnesses and possible treatments.The health and well-being of the population of the world is much more important than someone making a dollar.

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