Wednesday, October 31, 2012

UIC study is examining direct-to-consumer drug ads on TV


There are three types of pharmaceutical ads, which are subject to different levels of regulation by the FDA:
  1. product claim ads, which include the drug name, an FDA-approved use, and the most significant risks; 
  2. reminder ads, which give the name of the drug but not its uses, which do not have to contain risk information; and 
  3. help-seeking ads, which describe a disease or condition but do not recommend a specific treatment.
A team at University of Illinois at Chicago is asking, “Do pharmaceutical ads educate patients and improve health -- or merely spur drug sales?”

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Institute for Health Research and Policy are conducting the first comprehensive study of televised drug commercials using Nielsen Media Research and health care utilization data.

The research is funded by a $3 million, four-year grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The U.S. is the only country that allows televised ads for prescription drugs. Direct-to-consumer drug commercials are the fourth most common category of television advertising.


The increase in the amount of advertising has coincided with huge increases in health care costs, said Sherry Emery, principal investigator of the project at UIC, who notes that advertising has not likely caused the entire rise in health care costs.


On the one hand, the pharmaceutical industry claims that these advertisements provide a public service by educating consumers and giving people information to take to their doctors that might improve their health and ultimately result in lower health care costs, Emery said. But there are a lot of economists who would suggest that you don't advertise a product unless you expect to make money from it -- and these ads might be driving excess demand.


Previous research has not demonstrated either effect conclusively, said Emery, a senior research scientist at the UIC institute, perhaps because such studies have focused on single categories of drugs. Several studies have examined the effect of direct-to-consumer advertising on consumers' behavior and health outcomes, but most have used aggregate spending rather than more refined measures of ad exposure.


It seems reasonable that an advertisement for a cholesterol medication that treats a non-symptomatic condition might be different than an advertisement for an asthma medication, where if you don't adhere to the medication, you may end up in the hospital with a flare-up of your asthma, she said.


Emery and colleagues will use the Nielsen data to examine direct-to-consumer advertising on health care utilization and pharmaceutical sales of eight therapeutic classes of drugs promoted in the top 75 U.S. media markets from 2005-2009. The drugs include those for allergies, asthma, arthritis, depression, erectile dysfunction, hyperlipidemia, sleep disorder, and smoking cessation. Data from millions of patients will be examined for doctor visits, hospitalizations, new prescriptions, and prescription refills. The study will take into account different patient characteristics and regional differences in access to physicians.


The researchers will also evaluate the content of the ads to see how they vary among drug classes -- and whether these differences affect their impact.


There are three types of pharmaceutical ads, which are subject to different levels of regulation by the FDA: product claim ads, which include the drug name, an FDA-approved use, and the most significant risks; reminder ads, which give the name of the drug but not its uses, which do not have to contain risk information; and help-seeking ads, which describe a disease or condition but do not recommend a specific treatment.


It's conceivable that the different types of advertising are used differently by drug class and that they might affect the way people respond to the advertisement in terms of their health-seeking behavior and their demand for the medication, said Emery.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

1 of the 10 human drives to activate to make you feel alive


I really benefited from reading “The Charge” by Brendon Burchard.  Even the subtitle got my attention: “Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive.”

It was recommended to me by Jack Canfield, Co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and author of The Success Principles.  Jack says, “There hasn't been a game-changing book on personal development in a long time. The wait is over. The Charge confronts our very notions of what drives us as humans, and after reading this book you’ll find a new internal charge that’s stronger and more energized than you ever imagined possible.”

One specific area proved quite thought-provoking.  It is the Activator to find and cultivate growth friends.

Burchard writes that most people don’t have a real grasp on how vital their friendships are to their overall mental health and happiness. 

In study after study, he writes, researchers from a variety of disciplines continually find that the quality of our immediate friendship-based relationships is one of the most important factors in determining our overall stability, mood, ambition, emotional range, growth, and satisfaction in life.

That’s why Burchard warns: Be careful whom you surround yourself with. 

But if, like me, you don’t really surround yourself at all?

The average American has only one or two close friends.  That’s unfortunate, but it does gave me an obvious clue to how I might immediately improve my life satisfaction.

Burchard says, take a look at your own peer group, then answer the following questions.

1.     How many close, real friends do you have? (You alone can define “close” and “real” for yourself)
2.     How often do you see them in person?
3.     How often do you speak with them?
4.     On a scale of one to five, with one being the lowest amount possible, how well do these close friends really know you?
5.     On a scale of one to five, with one being the lowest amount possible, how much do these close friends consistently encourage you to chase your dreams?
6.     On a scale of one to five, with one being the lowest amount possible, how much do these close friends provide you with insight, information, and inspiration that challenge you to be a better person?
7.     On a scale of one to five, with one being the lowest amount possible, how much fun do you have when you hang out with these close friends?

Take time to do the survey, and pick up the book.

Or even better, pick up the phone and call me.  We both could use some time with a friend.

Monday, October 29, 2012

4 things I “can't live without”


One of my favorite features of INC. Magazine is “Things I Can’t Live Without.”

It’s a chance for entrepreneurs to share a few of their favorite things – and what’s on their wish lists.

Here are some things I really couldn’t do without:



 L.L. Bean Long-sleeve Polo Shirts

This is my go-to wardrobe essential after work and on weekends.  They don’t wrinkle, shrink, pill or fade.  They are super soft and fit me great. I have at least a dozen in my closets, which is why you’ve probably noticed I’m wearing one in nearly every casual photo of me.

“Life is Good” Chill Baseball Cap

It had a weathered look and feel with a perfect bill the first time I put it on.  The Jake face reminds me to stay happy.  The New England based brand stays close to its roots, with an emphasis on simplicity, humor and humility. Their positive products keep the good vibes flowing.

Sharper Image Noise-Cancelling Headphones

As much as I travel, I have to be able to shut out the world while on the plane. Along with my favorite singer-songwriter mix, they give me peace and quiet with my musical enjoyment.

Bed Bath & Beyond Jersey Knit Sheets

Laugh all you want at this being on my list.  But I love our T-shirt sheets.  They are truly incomparable.  So much so that I miss them when I have to sleep in a hotel bed.  They are extremely soft, really durable, and great colors.


ON MY WISH LIST: Scott eRide Aztec Trail Shoes

Ever since Jenny’s Foothills 50K Frenzy, I’ve had my eye on these cool shoes for rough terrain trekking. They not only have reinforced support and an Ergologic Fit for control, but also they look awesome.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

61 "Likes" and counting for the Passion Pit tix

In what looks more like a Big Ten football score, Melanie really lit up the Facebook tally in a contest for concert tickets from Seek Creative Distortion.

Monday, October 22, 2012