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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
Abstract of "Is Direct-to-Consumer Marketing of Orthopaedic Medical Devices Helpful or Harmful to Patients and Their Relationships with Their Surgeons?"
William M. Mihalko
Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN; Campbell Clinic Orthopedics, Germantown, TN
Over the past five years, there has been a surge in the direct-to-consumer marketing of orthopaedic implants to the general public. Celebrity endorsements now are becoming the norm when many could not have fathomed the idea a decade ago. From golf celebrities to basketball coaches and figure skaters, several orthopaedic implant companies now search for patient-directed business instead of selling their products on the basis of design and clinical outcome to the surgeon and or the hospital. While an educated patient should be every physician’s directive, the use of celebrity endorsements has now turned the decision over to the patient as they search online for the surgeon who uses the same implant as the one endorsed by their favorite retired professional athlete or celebrity. In many cases, these advertisements have caused patients to have already made up their mind before hearing any discussion from their surgeon at their initial office visit. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration requires that only restricted medical devices be overseen by their agency, while all other medical devices are overseen by the Federal Trade Commission. The main difference between pharmaceuticals and medical device marketing is that when a broadcast advertising a medical device is initiated, companies are not required to submit to the FDA copies of promotional materials, but by contrast, pharmaceutical companies are required to submit to the FDA copies of promotional materials for prescription drug products. One can argue that the FTC should consider regulating direct-to-consumer marketing of medical products to rid celebrity endorsements and regulate content to include only educational material for patients.
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