Four Billion Dollars for Drug Advertising

It's not my imagination. There is more direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising than ever. Ad Age says, " Food
and Drug Administration is pelting drugmakers with letters warning
that they have run afoul of promotional regulations." They write the FDA's actions are "threatening to tip the $4
billion direct-to-consumer industry into a full-blown crisis." The
FDA has warned nine companies so far in 2005, compared to 12 in 2004
and five in 2003. "DTC ads account for nearly a third of the
advertising on the major broadcast network's nightly news programs,"
notes AdAge.

This is ridiculous. There's not a doctor I know who wants random patients to call them about prescribing such and such a drug. The drug companies have gone too far.

In case you haven't yet seen it, here's a great takeoff on those nauseating drug ads: Consumers Union or jib-jab .


censorship can be justified.

Gee Anon, thanks for pitching in as my "Interpreter" (and you're probably nowhere as hot as Nicole Kidman either), but you've got it WRONG. That's not what I was trying to say.

Patient: Doc, I need the purple pill.

Doc: The purple pill? Do you know which medicine that is, and what it does? What are your symptoms?

Patient: My stomache hurts after I eat out. The purple> is supposed to fix that.

Doc: Do you go for spicier foods, or eat more food than you normally do at home when you go out? Does this happen only when you eat out, or other times, too? Maybe we should think about testing you for a>> infection, which is one of the most common causes of stomache distress, and can be cured by a short course of antibiotics. That way you probably won't have to take acid blockers for the rest of your life.

Patient: Look, you're just a resident. Can I talk to one of the doctors around here who will prescribe the purple pill for me?

"Where is Dr Schmidt in terms of Festril prescriptions?"

"He's at 2%."

"Why isn't he on board yet?"

"He likes to wait at least one year before prescribing any new drugs. It's a safety issue and he likes to reserve quinolones for compromised patients."

"What kind of idiot would reserve the most effective drug on the market? What's his reason?"

"Well, because last year, you know, when we didn't have our own quinolones to sell, we were calling him an idiot for using such a big gun when it wasn't absolutely necessary."

"Oh, it looks like you did your job a little too well last year. Have you invited him out to corporate yet?"

"No, but..."

"OK. I want him flown out to corporate. Also make sure he is signed up for the upcoming webcast with Dr Sing. I want you in his office twice a week for the next three. Got it?"

Slattery-Moschkau said that when sales reps went into doctors' offices, they were "armed and dangerous" with prescribing information on each doctor. "They know what percentage of Prozac or Paxil a doctor prescribes," she said. "The doctor often doesn't know this and it gives [reps] an incredible advantage over the doctor."

When doctors do find out that every single drug they prescribe has been tracked and sold "for millions of dollars" to drug companies, they can "go ballistic," said one drug company insider who asked to remain anonymous. Telling a doctor about the existence of these prescription tracking lists, he said, was "not a good career move."

"This story is actually my story," said Slattery-Moschkau, adding that the tactics employed by the industry in its "dangerous pursuit" of profits sometimes came "at the expense of patients' lives."

There's a commercial right now aimed at cat owners, showing a bunch of cats demanding their rights to be taken in to the vet for some type of prescription medication. That's ridiculous in and of itself, but what's bizarre is that they don't really say what the medication is for except for health. Jeeze. I make my cats leave the room when it's on.

A related story: last night my 11 y.o. was whistling the tune from that "natural male enhancement" commercial with the Stepford-looking couple.