Last updated on: 4/12/2010 | Author:

Jerry Avorn, MD Biography

Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School
Con to the question "Should Prescription Drugs Be Advertised Directly to Consumers?"

“Just as every other industrialized nation has figured out how to provide health care to all their citizens and how to get drug makers to negotiate the prices of their products, each of those countries (with the exception of New Zealand) also bans direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs…

All those other countries have it right, and we don’t. Doctors spend precious minutes of ever-shorter office visits explaining to patients why their cholesterol drug is every bit as good as the one they saw on television, or why feeling sad at the death of a loved one doesn’t require an antidepressant. Hawking medications to the public encourages rapid adoption of new products that may be no better — or even worse — than older, unadvertised generic drugs…

[T]his advertising promotes only the most expensive products, it drives prescription costs up and also encourages the ‘medicalization’ of American life — the sense that pills are needed for most everyday problems that people notice, and many that they don’t.”

“Should Prescription Drugs Ads Be Reined In?,” New York Times, Aug. 4, 2009

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Chief, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 1998-present
  • Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
  • Chief Clinical Consultant, Independent Drug Information Service
  • Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 1990-2005
  • Former President, International Society of Pharmaco-Epidemiology
  • Associate Professor, Social Medicine, 1985-1990
  • Assistant Professor, Social Medicine and Health Policy, 1979-1985
  • Physician, Beth Israel Hospital (Boston, MA), 1977-1994
  • Instructor, Preventive and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 1977-1979
  • MD, Harvard Medical School, 1974
  • AB, Columbia University, 1969
  • None found
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should Prescription Drugs Be Advertised Directly to Consumers?