Sunday, November 25, 2007

More Direct-to-Consumer Insanity

Now it's Johnson and Johnson's turn: starting on Thanksgiving Day, coronary stent (specifically Cypher stent) advertisements began airing on television directly to "consumers," our patients, promoting the ability of stents to "prop up your life" that has been "narrowed" by coronary blockages. "Life wide open" is the tag line.

It's so catchy. As though our patients can go down to the corner store and pick one of these up for their heart. I guess J&J feels patients can discern when a drug-eluting stent is preferred over a bare metal stent, or better yet: when a stent is appropriate and when it is not. Why didn't their ad mention that other non-invasive options might be more appropriate before stenting in some circumstances?

Well, it's simple. The best medical care isn't important to J&J. What is important is that J&J sells more stents. To that end, what's really important to J&J is that patients ask their doctors why their life isn't "wide open" and full throttle yet. As if we don't have better things to discuss.

But I guess J&J figures our patients' wallets are wide open, given the cost of such advertising, especially in prime-time TV slots. This advertising, by the way, is in addition to an already re-worked website and other print media that has appeared in major newspapers.

And J&J seems to be taking a path that is in direct conflict with their own credo, their guiding mission statement, that has hung on their walls for over 60 years:
"We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services. In meeting their needs everything we do must be of high quality. We must constantly strive to reduce our costs in order to maintain reasonable prices."
And where's the FDA who promised to monitor such advertising to our patient "consumers?"

Oh, I forgot - they're enjoying "monitoring" the commercials with a beer in their hand in front of the TV.


Image credit.


Anonymous said...

Do they come in designer colors?

Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

They are completely and utterly out of control - where the heck is the FDA?

Anonymous said...

The FDA is probably taking its lead from the Consumer Protection Agency - don't "interfere" with the almighty free market. The efforts by the Bush administration to "shrink" government have had a huge cost to this country in terms of lack of consumer protection, environmental issues (even hunting groups have been upset), etc.