5 things to consider with direct-to-consumer health products

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Image: Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) versions of teeth alignment kits, genetic tests, hearing aids, heart-rhythm monitors, neurostimulation devices, and mental health tools are already on the market, causing professional organizations of dentistsgeneticistsaudiologistscardiologistsneurologists, and psychiatrists to grapple with challenges to their authority and practice.

Since 1976, the Food and Drug Administration has acted as a gatekeeper for companies bringing medical devices to the market. Today, however, many companies bypass the FDA by marketing quasi-medical products directly to consumers for “wellness” or “lifestyle” purposes.

First, alternative regulatory solutions that are better matched to the current direct-to-consumer health landscape are needed.

Related article:  Are we ignoring 'staggering risks' of human gene editing, including a wider gap between haves and have nots?

Third, public information campaigns need to be waged with digital, not analog, tools. Watered-down statements from government agencies and patient pamphlets have little impact in today’s world.

Fifth, health professionals must become more informed about the direct-to-consumer health products in their respective fields. Rather than merely dismissing such products as invalid or irrelevant — which may discourage patients from talking about them — health professionals must recognize that their patients will have heard about these products and that they may present affordable, attractive options.

Read full, original post: 5 ways to address the challenges of direct-to-consumer health products

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