A fascinating story in today’s New York Times (Young, Assured and Playing Pharmacist to Friends) describes how people in their 20s and early 30s are becoming amateur pharmacists, self-prescribing and dispensing prescription drugs –not to get high but because they think they know best what they need. To a generation that came of age in the time since pharma DTC ads hit the scene in 1997, it doesn’t seem strange to play an equal or greater role than their physicians in choosing what medications to take. Internet based data sources and chat rooms provide a lot of information upon which to base decisions.
The pharmaceutical industry and physicians need to take a fair degree of responsibility for this state of affairs. As one of the people quoted in the article says,
I would never just do what the doctor told me because the person is a doctor. I’m sure lots of patients don’t know what they’re talking about. But lots of doctors don’t know what they’re talking about either.
Doctors may need to step up their knowledge about drugs and pharma should think hard about what the next generation of customers is going to look like and whether regulators and payers are going to put up with this state of affairs.November 16, 2005