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Deontology

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Deontology Paper Direct-to-Consumer Advertising (DTC) has been a long disputed ethical dilemma. The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries that allow it. By using Rawl's principles of justice, I will explain to you why I feel that this kind of advertising is ethical. There are different kinds of justice. Commutative justice refers to transactions being just. This kind of justice involves keeping transactions fair to both parties of the transactions. The transaction will be fair if both parties "have access to all pertinent information about the transaction; enter it freely and without any coercion; and benefit from the transaction"(DeGeorge, pg 76). Commutative justice is central to business transactions, but distributive justice is central to the actions of the government. John Rawls formulated a theory of distributive justice. He developed these principles in hopes that all rational persons find them acceptable. The principles are universal, respect all people, and can be rationally accepted by everybody. Rawls felt that people would agree "to two specific principles of distributive justice" that can be used in "establishing a just constitution" (DeGeorge, pg 78).These principles are:
• First: Each person is to have equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with similar liberty for others.
• Second: Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both
a. reasonably expected to be to everyone's advantage and
b. attached to positions and offices open to all (DeGeorge, pg 78). The first principle guarantees that each person will have equal liberty. People want as much freedom as they can get to achieve their ends. Respecting freedom is respect for other people. Every single person that is under this rule should be treated equally. The second principle can be seen as being controversial. This principle requires that each person has equal opportunity. There is an allowance in this principle for "inequalities of success, providing we are better off because of it" (DeGeorge, pg 79). Direct-to-Consumer advertising helps people gain knowledge on different drugs that are available. It is each person's right to have knowledge regarding different prescription drugs. DTC advertising educates patients and allows them to take charge of their own health. By informing patients, they no longer have to rely solely on what their doctors think, but now have access to multiple information sources and other treatment options. In 2005, a study was conducted using more than 6000 adults. These adults indicated that their doctor were still the most trusted source of information, however 48.6% of the adults went online before they spoke with their doctor, whereas only 10.9% spoke with their doctor first. There are many different online ads that communicate safety risks and public health information more thoroughly than at a doctor's office.(Ventola) I had a doctor tell me not to pay attention to the black box warning on a prescription. Being young and fully trustworthy of the doctor, I heeded her advice. This was a bad mistake. If I had looked online first to other alternative medications or therapies for my problem, I would have been able to avoid the horrific side effects of this prescription medication. Not only do DTC ads inform patients, but they can encourage patients to speak with a doctor as well. A 2004 survey done by the FDA found that by people being exposed to DTC ads, 27% of Americans made an appointment with their doctor to talk about a problem they had not previously discussed with them. The DTC ads also encourages patient dialogue with their doctors. The 2004 survey done by the FDA also noted that 53% of doctors felt that these kinds of advertisements led to better conversations with their patients and 73% felt that they encouraged patients to ask even more thoughtful questions. DTC advertisements has been credited with decreasing the under diagnosis and under treatment of medical ailments. The advertisements "enhance patient perceptions about conditions that could be medically treatable and encourage dialogue with health care providers". The survey also found that the DTC ads improved the under diagnosis of illness because 88% of patients who inquired about a medication in response to an ad had a conditions that the actual drug treated. Some of these conditions that would have gone unnoticed could be high-priority health conditions. Direct-to-Consumer advertising for ailments that are considered embarrassing to some people (ex: depression, anxiety, psoriasis), can actually reduce the stigma attached to these disorders. DTC ads also play a critical role in encouraging the competition of the product and lowering the prices. One of the biggest reasons why some people are not for DTC advertising is because they feel that the advertising actually drives up pharmaceutical costs. However, economic theories and evidence show that the prices are largely influenced by the consumer, physician, and payer's perceptions of the product's value rather than the advertising costs. By increasing the competition, the prescription prices will go down. The DTC ads encourages "early pharmacological management, resulting in cost-savings from avoiding more expensive surgical interventions". (Ventola) As mentioned above, one of the biggest criticisms of DTC advertising is that it drives up prescription drug costs. Critics feel that they threaten the sustainability of national health care services and universal access to health care as a fundamental right. Critics also feel that the money spent on advertising prescriptions drugs is passed onto the consumers by raising the price of those drugs. This is one of the many reasons why the United States and New Zealand are the only countries who participate in DTC advertising. The UK is currently considering to participate in DTC advertising, but only with certain kinds of drugs. ("Direct-to-Consumer Prescription Drug Advertising") There are many different pros and cons with direct-to-consumer advertising. However, it is important to remember who these advertisements help the most, the patient. Rawls felt that each person has the right to the most extensive liberty compatible with similar liberty to others. One of the liberties that all people should have is knowledge. By having DTC advertising, this helps to increase the knowledge and awareness of all people in our society. By providing DTC advertisements, every single person will be able to gain knowledge regarding certain medications. All classes of people are being informed. The rich are not the only ones getting information on advances in the medical community. This point pertains to Rawls second principle. All people have the right to choices, especially when it pertains to their health. Patients need to take a more active role in their health instead of solely relying on what the doctor's have to say. I have been the person who just depended on the doctor, and it cost me tremendously in the end. Critics feel that there is a potential for more harm to be done to people because of the costs or not having enough information in the advertisements. They feel that this can lead to patients being harmed. I find that to be untrue. In order to get the prescriptions, the patients will still have to go to the doctor. The doctor will be able to inform the patients if they feel that it isn't the best fit for the patient. Most doctors are not going to give a prescription to a person just because they want it. The doctor can still advise the patient. Critics feel that the doctor's expertise will be taken away from them, but that is the exact opposite of what will happen. In conclusion, Direct-to-Consumer advertising is ethical. It is in the best interests for all parties to be involved in their health. DTC advertisements are a benefit to society.
Works Cited
DeGeorge, Richard T. Business Ethics. Seventh ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2010. Print.
"Direct-to-Consumer Prescription Drug Advertising The European Commission’s Proposals for Legislative Change." Health Action International. Health Action International, Dec. 2001. Web. 29 June 2013. .
Ventola, C. Lee. "Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising Therapeutic or Toxic?" NCBI. N.p., Oct. 2011. Web. 29 June 2013. .

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