The Impact of Direct-to-Consumer Medication and Genetic Tests on Contemporary Lives

The Impact of Direct-to-Consumer Medication and Genetic Tests on Contemporary Lives

Ana-Cristina Ionescu (Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania - CCIR, Romania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch535
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Background

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. - Albert Einstein

In times when the value of information is given a priori by speed, the most ardent discussions of humankind are either born or crystallized online, within a dynamic forum consisting of governments, policymakers - private and public sector representatives, the media and the consumer.

Online advertising, a constant of the modern societies, represents, in many fields, more than a marketing communication mechanism used to encourage, persuade and manipulate the audiences towards a desired political, ideological or commercial decision. Within the medical field, the phenomenon that became known as direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising is an important source of information for the busy individuals, making them more aware about their wellbeing and providing them with the opportunity to participate in their own health care decisions. Yet, doctors consider that the ads have both positive and negative effects. According to the results of a Food and Drug Administration survey, released in 2004, physicians view DTC ads as one of many factors that affect their medical practices and their interactions with patients (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2013).

In many communities, the patient-doctor relationship is part of status-quo which regulates normality, but it seems more and more that in their endeavor for independence individuals understand the possibility to build their own treatment, to manage their healthcare, as a form of empowerment.

According to the doctors the ads for medication within the various media have both positive and negative effects on their patients and practices, while the results of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) survey, released in 2004, point out that most physicians perceive DTC ads as one of many factors that affect their interactions with patients (US Department of Health & Human Services, 2013).

The same happens with genetic tests. Stein (2011, 2012) argues that the recent years have seen an increased availability of genetic tests that are offered by companies directly to consumers – the so-called direct-to-consumer genetic testing. The consumers receive directly the results of the tests offered in this setting range, while the only form of counseling available is provided on-line or over the phone.

As opposed to the decades when prescription drug makers promoted their products exclusively to health care professionals – that were supposed to explain drug information to their patients, starting with the early 1990s, a part of the drug manufacturers began targeting consumers directly (US Department of Health & Human Services, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Advertising: Is directed toward patients, rather than healthcare professionals. Forms of DTC advertising include TV, print, radio and other mass and social media. In terms of social psychology DTC medication prescription and genetic testing are often understood within the collective thinking as a form of empowerment. However, from a medical point of view, the ads might entail major risks to one’s health, in the absence of professional counseling.

Advertising: Marketing communication mechanism used to encourage, persuade or manipulate the audiences towards a desired political, ideological or commercial decision.

Virtual Communities: Aim to reflect the cycle of a face-to-face society by enhancing people with similar interests to converge and unite across large distances through online means.

Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs): Refer to all communication devices and applications utilized for producing and transmitting information. Today, ICTs - especially Web 2.0 - are understood as a time -sharing function that would not only enhance many-to-many communication but also permit users to really benefit from the medium, to migrate from a mere sender-receiver model of communication towards one of interaction.

Web 2.0: Is associated with web applications - social networking platforms, blogs, wikis or video sharing sites - that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-focused infrastructure and networking tools on the World Wide Web.

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