Ad Nauseam

Friday, September 07, 2007


When advertising companies team up with pharmaceutical companies, the result can be sickening. For example, when the sleep drug Lunesta hit the market, so did an epidemic of sleeplessness. In her new book, Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, Shannon Brownlee deconstructs direct-to-consumer drug marketing.

Comments [4]

Gregory D. Pawelski from Pennsylvania

A recent report in The New England Journal of Medicine confirms that drugmakers tend to promote their newest drugs DTC (direct-to-consumer): Notably, nearly all (17 of 20) advertising campaigns for the most heavily advertised drugs began within a year after FDA approval of the drug. Which raises questions about the extent to which advertising increases the use of drugs with unknown safety profiles.

However, drugmakers are going directly to the consumer at a time when their products are indeed at the margins of evidence-based medicine (morphing into pharma-based medicine). On one hand, in cancer medicine, pharmaceuticals advertise extensively and the advertising is manipulative in the extreme. On the other hand, even NCI-designated cancer centers do this sort of direct to consumer, hard sell advertising. The media advertising is no more misleading than the one-on-one communication which often goes on between a chemotherapy candidate and an oncologist.

Sep. 12 2007 08:26 PM
mary jamison

The omnipresence of drug ads are discouraging me from watching TV--the power of suggestion frankly scares me. Being in the demographic the pharmas love, I'm assaulted by these ads in all my "media consumption." Guess I'm going to have to start watching NASCAR or MTV's Sweet 16 Party -g-

Sep. 11 2007 12:43 PM
LCM from KC, MO

Before we start dismissing Lipitor or the retroviral cocktails, we need to look at actual numbers on their effectiveness in preventing some truly devastating results of high cholesterol and HIV. I am not sure the comparison is fair, since for Lipitor and HIV meds, someone licensed can be held liable if wrongly prescribed; whereas in most places, marijuana can be "OTC". Not getting into the medical marijuana debate here; let alone crack cocaine.

Sep. 09 2007 05:25 PM
Robert from NYC

This piece is particularly interesting to me, I've felt for years now that the pharmaceutical companies have been using Drs and health organizations and the media (all tv news now have a Dr/reporter on staff) to push their drugs. I left my cardiologist because as we'd sit in his office and discuss my health we were surrounded by the same ads for heart drugs as those I'd see in pharmacies--and these are the same he prescribed for me. No thank you, Dr. As for making people sick some of the side effects of many of these "legal" drugs are as bad as, if not worse than, those bought off the street illegally. The side effects of marijuana are nowhere near as serious as those of the muscle cramps and possible deterioration of Lipitor for cholesterol or the fatal effects of some HIV drugs. Yet these last two are legal.

Sep. 09 2007 10:45 AM

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