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The following appeared in an article in a consumer-products
“Two of today’s best-selling brands of
full-strength prescription medication for the relief
of excess stomach acid, Acid-Ease and Pepticaid, are now available in milder
nonprescription forms. Doctors
have written 76 million more prescriptions for fullstrength Acid-Ease
than for full-strength Pepticaid. So people who need an effective
but milder nonprescription medication for the relief of excess stomach acid
should choose Acid-Ease.”
Discuss how well reasoned... etc.
This ad recommends
non-prescription Acid-Ease over
non-prescription Pepticaid for relief of
excess stomach acid.
The only reason offered is that doctors
have written 76 million more prescriptions for the full-strength prescription
form of Acid-Ease than for fullstrength Pepticaid.
While this reason is relevant, and provides some grounds for preferring
Acid-Ease over Pepticaid, it is insufficient as
it stands because
it depends on three unwarranted
The first assumption is that the prescription
form of Acid-Ease is more popular among doctors. But this might not be the case,
even though doctors have written 76
million more prescriptions for Acid-Ease. Acid-Ease may have been available for
several more years than Pepticaid; and in
the years when both products were available, Pepticaid might have actually been
prescribed more often than Acid-Ease.
assumption is that doctors prefer the prescription form of Acid-Ease for the
reason that it is in fact more effective at relieving
excess stomach acid. However, doctors may have preferred Acid-Ease for reasons other
than its effectiveness.
Perhaps Acid-Ease is produced by a larger, more familiar drug company or by one
that distributes more free samples. For that matter, the medical community
may have simply been mistaken in thinking that Acid-Ease was more effective. In
short, the number of prescriptions by itself
is not conclusive as to whether
one product is actually better than another.
The third assumption is that the milder
non-prescription forms of Acid-Ease and Pepticaid will be analogous to the
full-strength prescription forms of each.
But this might not be the case. Suppose for
the moment that the greater effectiveness
of prescription Acid-Ease has been
established; even so, the non-prescription form might not measure
up to non-prescription Pepticaid. This
fact must be established independently.
In conclusion, this ad does not provide
enough support for its recommending non-prescription Acid-Ease over
non-prescription Pepticaid. To strengthen
its argument, the promoter
of Acid-Ease would have to show that (1)
the comparison between the number of prescriptions
is based on the same time period; (2) its effectiveness is the main reason more
doctors have prescribed it, and (3) the comparative
effectiveness of the two non-prescription forms is analogous to that of the