Drug Pushers in Your Living Room (And Other Medical Stories of the Week)

The Vermont state Senate passed legislation to create a single-payer health insurance system, Paul Waldman reports for TAPPED. Since the state House has already passed a similar bill, all that’s left to do is reconcile the two pieces of legislation before the governor signs it into law.

Waldman stresses that there are still many details to work out, including how the system will be funded. Vermont might end up with a system like France’s where everyone has basic public insurance, which most people supplement with additional private coverage. The most important thing, Waldman argues, is that Vermont is moving to sever the link between employment and health insurance.

Roe showdown

Anti-choicers are gunning for a Roe v. Wade showdown in the Supreme Court before Obama can appoint any more justices. At the behest of an unnamed conservative group, Republican state Rep. John LaBruzzo of Louisiana has introduced a bill that would ban all abortions, even to save the woman’s life. The original bill upped the anti-choice ante by criminalizing not only doctors who perform abortions, but also women who procure them. LaBruzzo has since promised to scale the bill back to just criminalizing doctors. This is all blatantly unconstitutional, of course, but as Kate Sheppard explains in Mother Jones, that’s precisely the point:

The Constitution, of course, is exactly what LaBruzzo is targeting. He admits his proposal is intended as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional right to privacy included the right to abortions in some circumstances. LaBruzzo says he’d like his bill to become law and “immediately go to court,” and he told a local paper that an unnamed conservative religious group asked him to propose the law for exactly that purpose.

Drug pushers in your living room

Martha Rosenberg poses a provocative question at AlterNet: Does anyone remember a time before “Ask Your Doctor” ads overran the airwaves, Internet, buses, billboards, and seemingly every other medium? Direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertising has become so ubiquitous that it’s easy to forget that it was illegal until the late ’90s. In the days before DTC, drug advertising was limited to medical journals, prescription pads, golf towels, and pill-shaped stress balls distributed in doctors’ offices — which makes sense. The whole point of making a drug prescription — only is to put the decision-making power in the hands of doctors. Now, drug companies advertise to consumers for the same reason that food companies advertise to children. It’s called “pester power.”

DTC drug ads encourage consumers to self-diagnose based on vague and sometimes nearly universal symptoms like poor sleep, daytime drowsiness, anxiety, and depression. Once consumers are convinced they’re suffering from industry-hyped constructs like “erectile dysfunction” and “premenstrual dysphoric disorder,” they’re going to badger their doctors for prescriptions.

That’s not to say that these terms don’t encompass legitimate health problems, but rather that DTC markets products in such vague terms that a lot of healthy people are sure to be clamoring for drugs they don’t need. Typically, neither the patient nor the doctor is paying the full cost of the drug, so patients are more likely to ask and doctors have little incentive to say no.

Greenwashing air fresheners

A reader seeks the counsel of Grist’s earthy advice columnist Umbra on the issue of air fresheners. Some of these odor-concealing aerosols are touting themselves as green for adopting all-natural propellants. Does that make them healthier, or greener? Only marginally, says Umbra. Air fresheners still contain formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, and other questionable chemicals.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.


Related Stories:

Vermont Poised to Pass Single-Payer

Anti-Choice Video Equates Obama With Angel of Death

Drug Companies Choose Profit Over Patients


Photo from bluewinx15 via flickr
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger


Debra Van Way
Debra Van Way6 years ago

The drug companies have gone crazy. I have to laugh when I hear the long list of side effects including death for drugs to "treat" minor ailments. I loved the drug for treating Alzheimer's that had a side effect of possible memory loss. Talk about a duh? moment. I think I will stick with aspirin as my drug of choice.

Samuel K.
Samuel K.6 years ago

Vermont has the right idea.

Sound Mind
Ronald E6 years ago

The media ad revenue would certainly suffer if the change in the law that allowed advertising by the Drug Industry were to be repealed. I'd love it, however.

Karen F.
karen Friedman6 years ago

Take all the drug pushing ads off the air waves. The drugs only keep you sick, and the side effects make you sicker requiring you to take more and more drugs.The phama giant in this country doesn't want you to get well , it wants you to keep coming back for more and more till the day you die.

William Y.
William Y6 years ago

"Ask Your Doctor," the most stupid three word combination, ever.
If your doctor doesn't prescribe a specific med for whatever condition you have, you don't need it. He should be telling you what you need not vice versa.

Nelson B.
Nelson Baker6 years ago

Drug companies should not be allowed to promote their products directly to the public. Some doctors will prescribe anything a patient wants. Probably some doctors are not familiar with the product or its side effects. There are doctors who will push medications on patients because of the gifts lavished on them by the drug companies.

Mike B.
Michael Barnes6 years ago

I may move to Vermont.

carol a.
carol R6 years ago

In regards to drug pushers in your living room, I am stunned and amazed at all the ads promoting what drugs to tell your doctor you want, and all the side effects, including fatal ones, that are blithley listed in a cheerful voice. It's appalling. Magazine ads are often a 3 page spread, just look in Time magazine. The FDA and drug manufacturers are way too cozy.

Tery G.
Tery G6 years ago

Good luck to Vermont. I hope they can get the kinks worked out. At least one state is trying to to help both their inhabitants and small businesses. I'll bet the insurance companies are having a fit.

Jimmy Spyder
Jimmy Spyder6 years ago

Only if you have cash!!!