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Responding to Direct to
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Responding to Direct to Consumer Drug Advertising

How can health care providers educate patients to distinguish between product marketing and balanced scientific information when viewing direct to consumer ads? Providers recognize that the newest and most expensive drugs are contributing to dramatic increases in pharmaceutical expenditures and need resources to counsel their patients about appropriate medications. June Glenn-Lawson, MD, at Tri-City Health Center, uses a smart shopping analogy to educate her patients about the cost-effectiveness of selecting generic drugs over brand-name drugs. Glenn-Lawson reports that most of her patients recognize that the same company making the brand-name product often makes the supermarket "house" brand. Consumers want the "best-buy." Chuck Cadis, PharmD, chief of pharmacy at Northeast Valley Health Corporation, reports that the major drawback in dispensing generic drugs is that different manufacturers products vary and that this variation can be confusing to patients. To allay concerns, Cadis makes certain to alert patients to any changes at the time of refill. Reassuring patients that these small differences do not affect the drug's action increases acceptance of the generic drugs and provides good value.

Medpin has a limited supply of Consumers Guide to Generic Drugs, developed by the National Consumers League with an educational grant from Medco Health Solutions, Inc. You can order a free supply by emailing info@medpin.org with your request. Be sure to include quantity (up to 500 copies) and your mailing address. You can also download the brochure from the National Consumers League website at http://www.nclnet.org/Generics.pdf.

The California HealthCare Foundation is convening a policy advisory board for their education campaign on direct to consumer (DTC) advertised prescription drugs. The goal is to provide consumers with credible, easily understood information about the most commonly advertised drugs.

Here are some other readily available tools and resources specifically designed to educate consumers about high quality alternatives to costly new drugs.



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