Sunday, September 23, 2007

Should medical device companies advertise (more) on television?

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

Among many other problems that could be listed about the Twin Cities article referenced for this post, here is one that took me aback,

" As for the future, Kamp said it was "inevitable" there would be more TV ads for devices because of "the cultural change of (patients) being expected to be partners in the decision-making process with our doctors." "

This is apparently a quote from John Kamp, who is apparently the executive director of the New York-based Coalition for Healthcare Communication.

Now, I don't know about this organization, but I am appalled at the suggestion that patients should now become "partners". Well maybe it works for a few doctors who would like to have lesser liability on malpractice suits, but if we as patients made decisions, why would there be a need for doctors in the first place?

Don't doctors face enough trouble with overtly ambitious patients who come back loaded with misleading information from the internet? Remember the study that showed that only 52% of information you find on the internet is accurate? Statistical techniques themselves have only a certain degree of accuracy. So, maybe information found on the internet is only 40% accurate, maybe it is 60%, but the danger still rests.

Medical Device companies and sales teams may already be pressuring doctors. If patients also join the mayhem, how are they to make independent decisions? And then we blame them of malpractice..

Also, how are medical device companies going to differentiate themselves from the late-night morphological "enhancements" and "proven weight loss" advertisements?

Medtronic may have succeeded, though I doubt it. I don't remember seeing the ad, and being in the profession, if it doesn't stick in my head, I really doubt the strength of the message. I say this, because the blood glucose meter ads do stay fresh in my mind [I did work on blood glucose monitors extensively in the past and may be biased].

What will happen when companies with devices awaiting FDA approval start advertising? (You know the size -1 font disclaimer at the bottom of the "enhancement" ads?) How about companies making off - label claims on national television? The FDA has enough headache trying to deal with drug company ads. Is this new "inevitable" venue for marketing healthy?

I don't think so. Especially not for life - altering implantable devices and the like. Blood Glucose Meters *may* be okay, because they are carry-ons and semi-consumer devices compared to the Lap Band, ICDs and so on.

Raising patient hopes unnecessarily only to have their doctors later tell them they are not eligible for a device is very cruel.

So, am I just going to pose problems and not provide solutions?


Here is the alternative: Pick a disease. There are hundreds of non - profits (in some cases, atleast 1) dealing with various health conditions. These non profit websites and materials try to do full justice to various treatment options that are available. Please support them. Again don't dump money on them and try to coerce them. Stay within the ethical bounds.

And of course, differentiate your products from shady sleep medicine ads that air at 3AM. That is not "placement". It is just "plain disgusting".

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