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Doctor doesn’t buy the line that drug ads seek ‘target patient’

The Merck building, in Kenilworth, N.J. The drugmaker has been lifted by sales of the cancer fighter Keytruda.Mel Evans/Associated Press

Re “Can’t stomach TV drug ads? You’ve got company.” (Business, Jan. 17): Yes, there is a glut of TV commercials touting the benefits of sophisticated drug therapies, and we are told that “pharmaceutical companies think about their marketing strategies in terms of a ‘target patient’ … and they believe their target patient is in the audience of a particular show.”

Two immunotherapy medications are frequently advertised on television for adults with non-small cell lung cancer that has spread and who test positive for PD-L1 and do not have an abnormal EGFR or ALK gene.

A targeted metastatic breast cancer treatment for men and women is useful in HR+ HER2- patients, often used in combination with a nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor or fulvestrant.


The information cited above is incomprehensible to all but oncologists, biochemists, and immunologists, and thus the target is probably the prescribing habits of the physician rather than the edification of the patient.

Dr. Alan Marks


The writer is a retired physician.