Thursday, January 10, 2008

Money Not Medicine

Did you know that in 2002 the top 10 drug companies had profits that equaled the other 490 Fortune 500 companies combined? Think direct-to-consumer advertising by the drug companies could have anything to do with it?

In 1982 the vice president and general counsel of American Home Products responded to Representative John Dingell saying "(Direct) advertising would make (patients) extraordinarily susceptible to product promises." The chairman of Abbott Laboratories wrote, "We believe direct advertising to the consumer introduces a very real possibility of causing harm to patients who may respond to advertisements by pressuring physicians to prescribe medications that may not be required." Smith Kline and French warned that "advertising would have the objective of driving patients into doctors' offices seeking prescriptions."

What changed in the last 25 years? Why did drug companies suddenly jump on the advertising bandwagon? The answer is simple: Money. From the first small steps it became obvious how much money could be made. Greed quickly overcame conscience, as usual.

The predictions made in 1982 have been proven incredibly accurate in the last few years. In the years to come I predict we're going to look back at this period with disgust at the unbridled greed by the drug companies and its resulting toll in human lives and suffering. This isn't medicine, it's marketing, and the price is too high.

If you'd like to learn more about this subject I highly recommend Shannon Brownlee's new book "OVERTREATED".

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