Are You Overpaying for Drugs? Do They Even Work?

Jay Stillman

2 min read


Stillman and Friedland suggest that our clients take a long, hard look at what medicines are prescribed by physicians and touted in expensive ads. In an excellent article this past week, the NYT’s Elisabeth Rosenthal examines the phenomenon of deceptive drug ads and points out where consumers are being duped.

Rosenthal specifically examines the relatively new practice of direct-to-patient advertising for prescription meds. Pricey ads target those who can afford to pay for expensive meds or can get them paid for by health insurance. Many of these costly drugs are no more effective than cheaper options, or at worst, largely ineffective.

Here’s a prime example, in a freaky Super Bowl commercial for a drug which is supposed to counter opioid-induced constipation:

We all know Super Bowl commercials cost a fortune, and you can bet the price of promotion is passed on to the consumer. In the case of Movantik, the ad mocks consuming prunes, yet drinking water and eating fiber-rich food is an excellent way of dealing with this issue, and improves general health. Quitting opioid meds, of course, would be the primary way to get rid of this issue. But neither of these options would put a nickel in the pockets of drug manufacturers. Taking Movantik sets consumers back up to $350 a month and comes with a long list of side effects. Adding more vegetables to your diet is certainly cheaper and healthier.

Another drug cited costs thousands for a course of treatment and has an efficacy rate of 20%. A whopping 80% of patients pay a fortune and get zero results.

Always do online research to find out if a drug is safe and effective, and check to see if there are potential cross reactions. You can use an online app to find out if you have been prescribed incompatible meds. Remember that taking many drugs equals many side effects, and that means less health, not more.

Bottom line: Do not be swayed by fancy commercials and don’t assume that more expensive means better! Use common sense, and ask your doctor for less expensive options, including generic drugs and lifestyle changes.

Stillman and Friedland, because we care about you!