Responding to Patients' Request For Specific Medications

Friday, March 20, 2015

There is a bit of a controversy about media advertising on specific drugs. While it does raise awareness on the importance of healthcare and regulating medical appointments for disease control, advertising has also increased patient requests for specific medications. These requests have an adequate impact on the decisions of physicians who prescribe these meds, according to the April issue of Medical Care.

At Arizona Priority Care, our physicians follow regulatory procedures for prescribing medications. If a patient requests a specific medication, a thorough examination is done to determine if the drug is safe and if it is applicable to the patient’s medical condition. With over 100 primary care physicians in Arizona associated with Arizona Priority Care, our centers are the leading PCP groups in the entire state.

According to a study lead by John N. McKinlay, PhD, from the New England Research Institutes, says that, “A patient request for a specific medication dramatically increases the rate at which physicians prescribe that medication.” The results of this prescription rate are not always positive, and the research team says that direct-to-consumer advertising has negative effects “and other forms of activation in medication requests.”

In response to this reaction, the researchers conducted an experiment that examined the effects of patients’ requests for desired medications. The study included actors who pretended to have either sciatica causing back pain or osteoarthritis causing knee pain. The participants with sciatica were instructed to request oxycodone, while the participants with knee arthritis were instructed to request Celebrex. The control group simply requested “anything to make their condition better.”

The participants communicated to the physician that either they had taken some of their spouse’s leftover medication, saw the medication advertised, or heard from a friend that the medication really helped. Based on questions to physicians, the results suggested that patients who actively request drugs have a strong effect of recommended treatments. According to the study, 20 percent of the “sciatica patients” received an oxycodone prescription, compared to 1 percent for the participants who didn’t request a medication.

The results from this study raise questions and the safety of prescription drug requests as a result of direct-to-consumer advertising. At Arizona Priority Care, our physicians do not solely prescribe a medication based on a patient’s request. Physicians will consider the request, only after a thorough examination is performed to assess safety, efficacy, and availability. To learn more about the study, visit

For more information, contact Arizona Priority Care directly at (855) 711-2912.

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

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