Good Question: Why are prescription medicines advertised on TV?

Good Question: Why are prescription medicines advertised on TV?
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 3:35 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - If you’ve ever seen a commercial for a prescription drug, you might have had a similar thought to the viewer who sent in today’s Good Question.

Steve asks, “Why are prescription medicines advertised on TV when they are not available to the public except with a doctor’s prescription?”

Well, the simple answer is money. They hope that by seeing those ads, you’ll bring the medicine up to your doctor, who might then prescribe it.

There has been a lot of discussion about the billions of dollars drug companies spend every year on those ads. The National Institutes of Health says there are ethical concerns that those advertising strategies are predatory and cause harm to patients.

In some cases, companies spend more on advertising a drug than on researching it.

You should also know that while the FDA regulates advertising for prescription drugs, the Federal Trade Commission is responsible for regulating ads for over-the-counter drugs.

In any case, your best bet is to ask your doctor if you have questions about a drug. Just be aware that might be what the advertisers are hoping you’ll do.

If you have a Good Question you’d like us to try to answer, send it to