Medical commercials not only affecting your prescriptions but insurance costs

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Big pharmacies direct to consumer marketing tactics are paying off and local pharmacies are seeing the effects with prescription orders. KMVT’s Morgan Rumpf met with a local pharmacist and finds out how this impacts consumers.

$10 billion that's the amount of money the health care industry invested in 2016 for television ads for pharmaceuticals.

"Direct to consumer advertising definitely plays a big role in it, because otherwise you don't know there's a medicine that fix whatever problem that you have,” said Pharmacist Chris Johnson. “So those commercials tend to make those people think about maybe that's bothering me then they go and talk to their doctors about them."

Big Pharma is utilizing the direct to consumer advertising, and patients are heading to their doctor offices, after self-diagnosing ailments.

"Even in pharmacy school we would be reading about something and half of us in the class had every disease we studied just by learning about it,” Johnson explained. “We'd be like yeah I have some of those symptoms and some of this, but it always comes down to have your doctor check you out see what you actually do have."

These brand name medications carry a hefty price tag. Johnson explained that this impacts insurance rates because as a person charges expensive medications, insurance companies the next year are likely to raise premiums.

"If we have the generic available we typically substitute it for that. But like a lot of the new ones you see on TV they're brand new so generic isn't available yet so that's the only option for the customer," Johnson said.

Store shelves are filled with brand name items plus generic options. Pharmacist Johnson told KMVT generic does not mean less effective.

"The generics by law have to be at least 95% similar to the branded medication so it's basically the same thing just a cheaper price," Johnson said.

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