If you've ever had doubts about the power of advertising, take a look at a recent study appearing in the Journal of American Medical Association.1 Richard Kravitz, from the University of California, Davis, and colleagues found that when "standardized patient" actors portraying depression visited doctors and asked for Paxil, 27% of them walked out with a prescription for the drug, compared to just 3% of patients who described the same symptoms but did not ask for Paxil. That finding should be considered in the context of the fact that there are three other antidepressants in exactly the same class as Paxil and countless other treatments available, some of which don't involve any medication. Other surveys2 have found that about 40% of patients who asked for a specific drug left their doctor's offices with a prescription for it.

It's no wonder, then, that direct to consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical...

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