We live in a world where being medicated has become a societal norm. Modern health care practices have set the stage for the proliferation of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs by pharmaceutical manufacturers. Some of these practices include the emergence of managed care organizations (MCOs), the legalization of DTCA of prescription drugs, the emergence of the Internet as an alternative promotional channel, the increased desire by patients to become more involved in their own health care decisions, the disillusionment with traditional medicine, and the rise of ‘alternative’ medicine, to name a few. There is an ongoing debate as to the ultimate harm or benefit of this relatively recent practice of pharmaceutical manufacturers to direct their promotional efforts away from the physician and towards the consumer.
Almost a third of adults say that they have spoken to their doctor about a drug they saw advertised on television and forty-four percent of those patients were prescribed the medication.(6) Pharmaceutical companies market their drugs in the most favorable light, oftentimes mitigating rare but significant side effects.(7) Most provide typical product information, along with vague descriptions of benefits; however, significantly fewer provide the ―prevalence of, risk factors for, or causes of the condition.(7)
Pharmaceutical companies have a wide variety of scientific evidence based on their previous and most recent clinical trials on every type of drug they introduce in the advertising world. However, one of the few problems they are facing is that there is too much information being presented to the consumer during broadcast advertisements. In turn due to the overwhelming amount of information, consumers are missing key medical facts that are needed to make an informed decision regarding their health. While all ads appear to list both the positives and negatives of the medication, some advertisements may be more misleading than others.
Over the last several years, pharmaceutical companies have launched a campaign style called Direct to Consumer Drug Advertising or known as DTCA. This campaign has led to a large increase of clinical examinations has led to a large increase in clinical examination and this makes the pharmaceutical companies happy and helps padding their pockets. Using this type of advertising, these drug companies allow details of a particular drug to spread to a potential patient and then most likely pushed by the doctor upon visit. These types of advertising campaigns are focused on trying to “enrich” the consumer (Relman p28). Even though this type of advertising campaign allows most drugs to be cheaper overall, consumers should be concerned about the ethical and psychological effect it might have because of the type of massive advertising campaign it has become. This particular study will go on to explain the unethical impact a campaign like this has on side effects and addictions (Findlay p39).
“Drug company propaganda techniques are extremely sophisticated, leveraging advanced techniques to change the medical landscape. It’s big business for them — US spending on prescription drugs jumped from $40 billion in 1990 to $234 billion in 2008 — but bad business for you” (3 Drug Company Propaganda Techniques). These ads don’t care about the people’s heath they just want money because it is nothing but a business to them. “The ads have a strong propaganda angle — happy, healthy people who’ve found that the one thing they’ve needed in life actually came in the form of a pill. This pill. The pill you need to “ask your doctor about” at your next appointment” (3 Drug Company Propaganda Techniques). Prescription drug ads find a way to attract people, especially the people that suffer from the diseases that the “pill” claims to cure. It is only natural for people to want to look and feel their best and these ads are taking advantage of
In Melody Peterson’s “Our Daily Meds” , the history of marketing and advertising in the pharmaceutical industry is explored. The first chapter of the book, entitled “Creating disease”, focuses on how major pharmaceutical companies successfully create new ailments that members of the public believe exist. According to Peterson, the success that these drug manufacturers have experienced can be attributed to the malleability of disease, the use of influencial people to promote new drugs and the efficient usage of media outlets.
The relationship between doctors and drug companies has been well established and well documented. Major news media resources like The Atlantic, as well as professional peer-reviewed journals like the New England Journal of Medicine cover stories addressing the potential ethical puzzles between physicians and pharmaceutical companies. Shaywitz (2013) has described the problem as “a bunch of wicked pushers who pay off vulnerable doctors to prescribe their latest expensive, mediocre product,” while still defending the special relationship that has developed between doctors and pharmaceutical companies (p. 1). Shaywitz’s (2013) argument is based on opinion on estimate only. Most established professional journals imply that collusion between doctors and drug companies leads to a range of problems that potentially harm patients. Writing for the British Medical Journal, Moynihan (2003) locates actual empirical evidence showing that doctors’ prescribing habits changes measurably after the skillful marketing techniques used by pharmaceutical industry representatives: techniques ranging from free ...
“The common forces driving utilization and costs are medical technology advancement, demanding consumers, and an aging population” (Barr). Advancements can be seen all over the medical field in areas such as MRIs, new cardiology procedures, highly specialized drugs, cancer treatments, and new laboratory procedures. Consumers are savvy and know their options. There is advertising from pharmaceutical companies and medical technology corporations promoting their drugs and products nationally via the Internet, magazine and television ads. The aging population is also living longer.
Ultimately, our obsession with the medicine industry only serves to diminish our oppurtunity to be healthy and appropriatley assess medical obligations if misuse of drugs continues to occur. Although we are attracted to the notion of bettering ourselves, we are hindering progression at an alarming rate with the continually growing dependence on the industry. However, what is most sinister is that we our decieving ourselves into thinking medication benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Feeling sick yet?
Marketers operating in the drug industry have to push their products which then raises the ethical questions that surround the profession of medical delivery. Pharmaceutical companies disburse billions of dollars annually to research, develop, and market drugs. Every pharmacy company needs the endorsement of their drugs from physicians and doctors, so they have to ensure that the doctors are well treated. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, the pharmaceutical corporation spent over $27 billion on advertising alone in 2012, with $24 billion of that dedicated to marketing to physicians. (Kessel, 2014) A further survey conducted by Deloitte shows that 35% of the doctors accept some gratuity payment from the pharmacy companies and 16% of the doctors take money to represent the pharmacy company in conferences and health camps. (Kessel, 2014) The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education declares that pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies funded almost one-third of continuing medical education (CME) opportunities for doctors in 2011.( (Barnett, 1989)