As we have noted in this space before, we think a great opportunity was missed in the recent health care reform initiative.
There is no question the bill does far too little to rein in health care costs. The most egregious omission is the failure to address spiraling drug costs. Frankly, a lot of lip service and ink are spent on addressing illicit drug problems, but we'd argue the pushing of legal drugs is one that is as costly - if not more so - than illegal ones.
Every night we are struck by the constant bombardment of legal drug commercials on television. In the one-hour period between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m., commercials telling consumers "to ask their doctors about" certain drugs dominate.
Drug commercials appear to account for about half of the ad time on the "CBS Evening News" and "NBC Nightly News."
There are commercials for treatment of everything from asthma to blood clots to heartburn. There are so many that if one didn't have drugs on his mind at the beginning of the hour, he certainly does by the end of it.
And that is the point of the commercials. Drug companies want people to ask their doctors for drugs. The constant drumbeat is not so subtly telling us that overlooking one of these drugs may kill us.
Judging by the growth in prescriptions, the strategy is working. According to KaiserEDU.org, the number of prescriptions written in the United States jumped 72 percent in the years 1997-2007. The population only grew 11 percent.
It is apparently very profitable to turn us into a nation of hypochondriacs.
(A version of this editorial has appeared previously in The Maui News.)
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.