Here is a graphic illustration of the concept of moral hazard as applied to the drug treatment of lifestyle diseases.
Reprinted from AdWatch
Many studies confirm that doctors’ behaviour can be influenced by drug advertising, but many of them are unaware of this.
Not only the advertising text, but also the images play an important part.
For example, see the above image in the Lescol advertisement published in the April 2008 issue of Rivista SIMG (Journal of the Italian Society of General Practitioners).
Lescol (fluvastatin sodium) is one of the statin class of drugs used to treat of high cholesterol when diet and other lifestyle changes don’t work.
The Summary of Product Characteristics states “for best results in lowering cholesterol, it is important that you closely follow the diet suggested by your doctor”.
What kind of advice could the doctor have given the two people on the beach?
They seem to be really happy and relaxed. The pastel colours, the calm sea and the blue sky in the background convey the impression that all is going well and no changes are needed.
The designer must have been influenced by the Colombian painter Fernando Botero, famous for his fat men and women, who generally emanate a sense of calmness and satisfaction.
What I can understand, as a doctor, after looking at this image?
“It doesn’t matter what I advise my patients to eat; it isn’t worth them trying to change their lifestyle behaviours.
Only the pill can make the difference!”