Health care industry spends $30 billion a year on marketing - NBCNews.com
NBC News - Tue 8 Jan 21:43 GMT

Health care industry spends $30 billion a year on marketing - NBCNews.com

Sophisticated campaigns make people worry about diseases they don’t have and ask for drugs or exams they don’t need, researchers say.

  “Whenever pharma or a hospital spends money on advertising, we the patients pay for it — through higher prices for drugs and hospital services,” said Shannon Brownlee, senior vice president of the Lown Institute, a Brookline, Massachusetts, nonprofit that advocates for affordable care.

  The biggest increase in medical marketing over the past 20 years was in “direct to consumer” advertising, including the TV commercials that exhort viewers to “ask your doctor” about a particular drug.

  The Food and Drug Administration has approved stem cell therapy for only a few specific uses — such as bone marrow transplants for people with leukemia.

  The website for Restasis, which treats dry eyes, prompts patients to take a quiz to learn if they need the prescription eye drops, said Woloshin, who wrote a February study with Schwartz on the drug’s marketing strategy.

  But drug sites don’t just lead patients to doctors, Woloshin said.