Pharmaceutical Commercials: Good Or Bad?

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For years, pharmaceutical commercials on television have incited passion within the healthcare community. Many healthcare professionals dislike that pharmaceutical commercials are able to market directly to the end user/prospective patient. Their concern is that doctors, not pharmaceutical commercials, should be the ones to broach the possibility of medication. Other healthcare providers worry about the voiceover on pharmaceutical commercials. Could listing aloud the seemingly endless potential side effects scare patients from taking essential, life-saving medications? While these concerns are certainly valid, is some good coming out of pharmaceutical commercials, particularly for the older patients?

Older patients, particularly older than Baby Boomer age, are frequently generationally resistant to admitting they struggle with any mental health problems. When they hear and see mental health symptoms described in pharmaceutical commercials, might it destigmatize those symptoms for that older patient? The older patient may then be open to discussing those symptoms (particularly anxiety and depression) with his or her doctor. While sometimes doctors have to deal with the unwelcome challenge of an older patient asking for an anxiety or depression drug by name, at least the door is open to a conversation about improving mental health.

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