BusinessMedical Ethics

Big Pharma: Direct to Consumer Marketing Is Unethical

2 Mins read

Fibromyalgia – this drug is advertised for its use, but what works better is simple exercise

You’ve seen their advertisements:

Fibromyalgia – this drug is advertised for its use, but what works better is simple exercise

You’ve seen their advertisements:

The ones where a man is placing testosterone gel under his arms. The ad saying that problems associated with “low T” are all the common problems of man. In his great editorial Dr. John LaPuma debunked their assertion and showed how what most men need are to lose their gut. Eat better, lose your gut- and #cysyp (look down, men, if you can see your penis you are ok, if you can’t you need to shed some pounds).

Lyrica for fibromyalgia: did you know that simple exercise works better than this drug? Yet, thousands get this drug instead of asking for a work-out routine with physical therapy to improve symptoms. But you never heard of an ad from them saying “Before you take this drug, ask your doctor for a work out routine.”

Big Pharma has decreased their marketing to doctors, under the guise that by their standards this is unethical. All while increasing their direct to consumer marketing to patients. The advertisements on television. They discovered that with enough pressure from patients, some doctors will give them a prescription for “low t.”  Big Pharma wasn’t making the headway with doctors, because many of us said to the “drug reps” that they would have to prove to us that these new drugs were better.  While they might come out with some pharma-paid for studies, most physicians would realize that they were not as good as independent research, not paid for.

Did you hear the excuse as to why drugs are more expensive in the US – because of the research and development costs? Did you know that the advertising budget of major drug companies is larger than their research and development budget?

It is time to end the nonsense. Stop the direct-to-consumer marketing of drugs, and foster the conversation between the doctor and his patient. Yes, it takes more time to talk to a person about weight loss, and often there are not good plans for weight loss out there. But it is the relationship between the doctor and the “customer-owner” (formerly called patient) that will keep the patient from wanting the latest drug on the market.

They even give you a “coupon” – remember when cigarette companies gave away some free cigarettes?

Did you know that Crestor in the United States costs $180 a month and in Canada it is $40 a month? It is off patent there, and most of the rest of the world – but, it was the lobby for Big Pharma that kept US consumers from importing drugs from Canada, and other places.  We don’t call that a free-market.

End the advertising to consumers. We regulate advertising for tobacco, which is a legal product sold over-the-counter to consumers.  Let’s end the advertising for drugs.

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