Thursday, September 10, 2009

Health Care and Big Pharma Advertising

I would not generally quote Dr. Andrew Weil. My general reaction to his many appearances on PBS fundraisers is to wait for a flock of purple martins to nest in his beard. However, in a recent book, and a news letter that he sent out today, he makes the following statement: (emphasis is mine)

Ban Prescription Drug Commercials

This week, my new book, Why Our Health Matters: A Vision of Medicine That Can Transform Our Future, became available. One of its key recommendations for reforming American health care aims at helping to end the reckless overuse of pharmaceutical drugs.

A main engine behind this overuse is direct to consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical marketing (think of Sally Fields' Boniva commercials). In 2004, American drug companies spent nearly 25 percent of their sales revenues on promotion, versus only 13.4 percent for research and development.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers wouldn't invest so much money in TV commercials and advice to "ask your doctor" about a drug if it didn't pay off. In 2000, every $1 drug companies spent on DTC advertising yielded an additional $4.20 in sales.
Now, this will not get all the so called progressives as excited as would yet another documentary from Michael Moore. (Sorry, I forgot, he is now advertising his latest: Capitalism: a Love Story. However, it just might reach more of Middle America. I hear that they have gotten somewhat over the series of documentaries that have flooded our theaters and returned to just plain entertainment.

Some people have such short attention spans.

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