Goods and services of all kinds are advertised to potential customers to expand product usage and to make profits. Medications are advertised as well. If they were not, people would be unaware of the products available to them and sales may be so low that no money is made by the companies who have invested in the new medication.
When reading or hearing about drugs and medical treatments, especially new products, the source of the information is important. Also, all drugs and treatments have positives and negatives, so hearing a few positive (or negative) soundbites might not give a person the information they need to decide if the drug is right for their situation.
Statistics are often used when medications are advertised to the general public. Yet do most people understand what the risks and benefits are? How good is the statistical knowledge of the general population? Is it easy to think clearly and analytically when sick, weak, or in pain?
Take this example. Which drug would you rather take: One that reduces your risk of cancer by 50 percent, or another drug that only eliminates cancer in one out of 100 people? Most people would choose the drug that reduces their risk of cancer by 50 percent, but the fact is, both of these numbers refer to the same drug. They’re just two different ways of looking at the same statistic. One way is called relative risk; the other way is absolute risk.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say there is a trial involving 100 people. Two people would normally get breast cancer during the trial duration, but when all 100 people are put on the drug, only one person gets breast cancer. This means the reduction of breast cancer is one person out of 100. Yet the relative risk reduction is 50 percent because one is 50 percent of two. In other words, the risk is cut in half from a relative point of view.
Even though this drug may help one out of 100 people, its side effects create increased risks to all 100 people. Everyone suffers some harm from the potential side effects of the drug, even if that harm is not immediately evident. However, only one out of 100 people was actually helped by the drug.
Review the 10 Essential Services of Public Health here: https://www.cdc.gov/stltpublichealth/publichealthservices/essentialhealthservices.html
In your post:
- Discuss how 4 of the Essential Services of Public Health relate to the issues of medication advertising and the role of biostatistics.
- How would you rate your statistical knowledge? The knowledge of an average U.S. resident?
- Do you think statistics should be used when advertising new medications? How can advertisers help ensure that the stats they are using do not oversimplify or give only a partial picture of the risks involved?
- Cite at least one scripture passage that pertains to this topic.
- Integrate at least one scholarly source on each thread pertaining to this topic and cite in AMA format.