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TV Ads for Statins Drive Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment According to Study


Story at-a-glance -

  • For the last 16 years, the United States is one of only two countries that allows drugs to be advertised on TV. A new study assessing the effect of direct-to-consumer drug advertising concluded that TV ads for statins may be a driving factor of overdiagnosis of high cholesterol and overtreatment with the drugs
  • Those who reported seeing statin ads on TV were 16-20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with high cholesterol, and 16-22 percent more likely to be using a statin drug
  • Both the diagnosis of high cholesterol and increased statin use was driven almost exclusively by those who were at LOW risk for future cardiac events. Conversely, those at high risk of heart disease were not more likely to be taking a statin after seeing the commercials
  • A previous study showed that pharmaceutical companies spend nearly TWICE as much on marketing in the US as they do on research and development of new drugs, which helps explain why Americans also pay twice as much as other nations for the identical drugs

By Dr. Mercola

The United States is one of only two countries, the other being New Zealand, that allows drugs to be advertised on TV, and it’s not difficult to understand why nearly every other country has given such ads the boot.

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