February 24th, 2011
Drug Marketing Increases Risk of Illness, Study Finds
The more widely drug companies market a drug, the less many users of the drug tend to benefit from its use and the more likely they are be harmed by it, a new report finds. Researchers Donald Light, PhD, of the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine and Howard Brody, MD, of the University of Texas Medical Branch call their finding the Inverse Benefit Law, and describe it in a paper published online in the American Journal of Public Health.
“The Inverse Benefit Law means that the more widely a drug is marketed, the more diluted becomes its effectiveness,” noted Light, “but the more people are exposed to its harmful side effects. The Inverse Benefit Law applies to most drugs advertised on television or in other mass media.”
In one example, Light and Brody point out that expert guidelines have steadily lowered the blood glucose levels that determine a diagnosis for diabetes. As this threshold was lowered from 140 milligrams per deciliter to 126 and then to 110, millions of additional patients received medications originally formulated to treat people above the original, higher thresholds. The authors argue there is little evidence that people at the lower thresholds are helped by the medications, and yet all were exposed to the drugs’ potential side effects.