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National News

AIDS Drug Ads Aim to Be "Real"

March 20, 2003

Advertisements for AIDS medications depicting athletic men scaling mountains have been replaced in recent years by portrayals of HIV-positive people such as Earvin "Magic" Johnson that some activists say are more realistic.

"The ads define who people with AIDS are, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse," said Martin Delaney, the founding director of San Francisco's Project Inform. Direct-to-consumer advertisements (DTCA) "play a big role in causing the treatment-of-the-month syndrome, where every new drug gets tossed and pitched at the patient," Delaney said. "And that's unhealthy."

But a new Harvard study suggests that there are no ill health effects on patients taking advertised drugs, as compared with those receiving unadvertised medications. Researchers at Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harris Interactive, a polling firm, surveyed 3,000 adults nationwide for a study "The Effects of Direct-to-Consumer Drug Advertising," (2003;22(2)www.healthaffairs.org/WebExclusives/Pharma_Web_Excl_022603.htm) published in the journal Health Affairs about the health effects of direct-to-consumer drug advertising on consumers. The study authors concluded that despite concerns about DTCA's negative consequences, they found no difference in health effects between patients who took advertised drugs and those who took other prescription drugs.

Ken Haller, president of the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association, said "[DTCA] might give patients information about new drugs that they might not have heard about from their doctor," he said. "But with HIV drugs, that's generally not such a concern because a lot of people with HIV visit their doctors more often. And if the doctor is a specialist, they'll be up on the latest drugs." Haller also said DTCA tends to skew doctors' prescriptions toward more expensive medications when in many cases, less expensive, generic medications might work just as well.

Back to other CDC news for March 20, 2003

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Adapted from:
Washington Blade
03.14.03; Rhonda Smith



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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