Managing the Downside
We've seen the downside of this already. Some healthcare experts partially blame the rise in super bugs to consumers' demand for antibiotics in cases where these medications won't work. Having sometimes waited 20, 30, 60 minutes or more to see a doctor, patients are unwilling to leave the office without a prescription for something -- even if only time, rest, and fluids will make them better. As you point out, a steady (actually, anecdotally, I'd say increasing) flood of pharmaceutical commercials will only make consumers more prone to requesting sometimes inappropriate medications from doctors, perhaps causing them to doctor-shop if their original physician doesn't prescribe Pill A for their ills.