Health: Just What the Patient Ordered

Prescription drug ads make doctors edgy and consumers curious

One morning this month, Dr. Michael Buenaflor, a family practitioner in Northampton, Pa., took a call from a patient who wanted a prescription. And not just any prescription. The caller insisted on Nicorette, a drug intended to help people stop smoking. How did he find out about it? From an advertisement. When Buenaflor suggested that the drug might not be appropriate for prolonged use, since the patient had a heart condition and an ulcer, the man hung up and took his "business" elsewhere. Concludes Buenaflor: "The pressure to use these drugs is incredible."

At issue is a new trend in the...

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