Brandchannel reports on the increasing trend for pharmaceuticals, and even surgical procedures, to be marketed directly to patients. This became more of a possibility (in the US at least) in 1997 when the Federal Drugs Agency relaxed its rules on such advertising and drugs companies have gone to extreme lengths to promote themselves. For example, Medtronic placed ads for is incontinence treatment above public urinals while Zimmer, pioneer of a minimally invasive hip-replacement operation, markets briefcases, desk accessories, cups, hats, polo shirts, sweat shirts, sweaters and writing equipment bearing its company logo on its website. Patients are better informed about symptoms and available treatments as a result and can even ask for drugs by name. The internet has also proved a powerful tool in this process, e.g. Medtronic's spinal division has bought certain back-pain related search engine keywords. However, some doctors have expressed disquiet at this practice, arguing that patients sometimes misunderstand or are misinformed and that certain drugs and procedures are unduly "hyped" even when their benefits have not been properly proven.

The IPKat notes the central role played by trade marks in this process. While doctors may not be so swayed by "big brands" and can be expected to remember unwieldy generic names, this isn't necessarily true of patients. Instead, they may favour trade marked products, even where there is little difference between the advertised product and its generic equivalents.

Be your own doctor here, here and here

PATIENT: HEAL THYSELF! <strong>PATIENT: HEAL THYSELF!</strong> Reviewed by Unknown on Sunday, November 16, 2003 Rating: 5

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