Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Direct to consumer marketing, oh, how I hate you

I've been home sick for two days. After watching everything in my DVR and all of my NetFlix movies (between naps), I was forced to watch daytime television. I'm not a television snob and, if I didn't have to work all day, I'd surely be addicted to at least three soap operas and The Price is Right.

My problem with daytime television and, more and more, the evening news, is the astonishing amount of direct to consumer advertising done my pharmaceutical companies. I can't prescribe drugs, most of the people I know can't prescribe drugs and I certainly hope that the people who can prescribe drugs aren't doing it based on an ad they saw on television, read in a magazine or heard on the radio.

The thing that disturbs me the most about pharmaceutical ads isn't the long list of worrisome side effects. I actually kind of enjoy those. The most disturbing thing for me and for everyone should be the amount of money spent on those ads which could be spent on research and development and, more importantly, lowering prices to consumers. Here are some stats:

  • the United States and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that allow direct to consumer pharmaceutical advertising; and
  • it is estimated that the pharmaceutical companies pay $4 billion annually on direct to consumer marketing. That's billion...with a b.

Click here to send a letter to your congressman and click here to read a better written article by someone who isn't on meds and falling asleep every fifteen minutes.


Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Being addicted to TV is my main reason for not watching it in the first place...

Hope you feel better soon!!

Jack said...

The problem with the '$4 billion with a b' isn't the 'b,' it's that direct to consumer advertising is only a tiny fraction of what they spend promoting their poison.

If the article cited below is accurate, they spend about $57.5 billion on promotion, versus about $31.5 billion on R&D.

Anne Bradshaw said...

I'm another anti-pharmaceutical advertisement person.

I wish they'd spend the money on properly and honestly researching all the amazing natural health claims out there, instead of condemning such things out of hand, so they can instead make more millions from selling harmful drugs to unsuspecting sick folk.

Laurie said...

Just... - I'm hopelessly addicted myself. Thanks for the "get well" wishes. I'm definitely on the mend. Stupid sinus infection.

Jack - Ah, yes, promotion. While I was at the doctor's office, I saw two sales reps and every piece of equipment, note pad, paper table cover, etc. had a drug name on it. Bastards.

Anne - Yes, it's a shame that science is so often fighting against nature rather than trying to work with it.

Alyson said...

I'm with you on this one. It's a relatively new tread and I find it bizarre. We shouldn't be requesting what drugs we want to take to our doctors, which I'm sure the drug companies are trying to get us to do with these ads.

jen said...

Although it's not related to medicine, I always think of "Happy Fun Ball" from SNL when I hear those lists of side effects.

Happy Fun Ball

Susan in St. Paul said...

Its the drug reps I worry about, they are the ones attempting influencing the people who prescribe drugs.

Laurie said...

Alyson - Absolutely.

Jen - I forgot about that. Hilarious!

Susan - I don't have a problem with the drug reps other than that they take up too much of the doctor's time. They're just doing their jobs and they're communicating directly with the physician. However, if they start going door-to-door? SERIOUS problem!