No, it’s not our rant this time. Instead, we’re serving up someone else’s argument for your enjoyment and discussion. You’ll find the voices of a whole host of folks closer to the core than we (thankfully) ever get: physicians, a former pharma sales representative, and a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.
(And the timing is apt, we thought. Just two weeks ago the British Medical Journal published research that illuminates (too positive a word, yes) the “invisible influence” that the pharmaceutical industry has on physician education. We invite you to read up on the strategy of silent sponsorship of and input into conference sessions that doctors believe are independent presentations.)
We have to say that even we were blown away by the montage of ad clips. We knew every single one, and it’s not just because we eat and breathe this stuff. Anyone know if Jay Leno has ever used pharma ads for Jay Walking? We bet our bottom dollar that people would be more familiar with the arsenal of drugs than they are with their elected officials or basic biological concepts. How could they not be? As the video illustrates, this stuff is in our face every day. You sit down to watch even the nightly news, and pharmaceutical options for ED and cholesterol are as much of the experience as the real news stories themselves.
The subtitle of the video, “Marketing Disease and Pushing Drugs,” is all too fitting. This new medical “age” we’re in is crafted to make us feel that it’s normal to be taking medication. It’s the rational, common, proactive thing to “ask your doctor.” And the faces of celebrities, former football stars, heck, even a presidential candidate suggest to us that if those larger than life people take it, why shouldn’t we consider it?
As one of the physicians states in the video, this cultivated message has, of course, resulted in people coming into their doctors’ offices with list in hand of what they want to try. And even if we’re not one of the ones running to see our doctors about the latest magical pill, the string of ad material hits home the idea that we can’t possibly be entirely unaffected by this kind of media. It’s an insidious shift in mindset and health culture that these companies are selling as much as a particular drug itself.
Most of us are undoubtedly old enough to remember the time when drugs (other than over the counter remedies) weren’t advertised on television. Seems like a different age when you look back, doesn’t it? It was.
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