Drug commercials really annoy me. I want my doctor prescribing what’s best for me, not what I suggest to him from what I saw on a commercial. So when I see an article about this subject, it catches my attention.
Here’s one I that sheds a lot of insight: How Does the Drug Industry Get Away with Broadcasting Those Deceptive Ads?
For instance, did you know that the U.S. is one of only two countries in the world that allows for pharmaceuticals to advertise directly to consumers (DTC)?
Such ads are permitted only in the U.S. and New Zealand. They are intended to provoke an individual consumer to request a specific prescription drug from their doctor. In 2009, the pharmaceutical industry spent an estimated $4.5 billion on such advertising. Total 2007 U.S. pharma industry sales were $315 billion.
It all started about 30 years ago, but the movement really started back in 1997.
n 1981, Merck published the first DTC ad for a prescription drug, Pneumovax, in Reader’s Digest. It was followed by numerous print ads, and in 1983, the first television prescription drug ad for Boots Pharmaceutical’s Rufen, prescription strength ibuprofen.
Over the next decade-plus, the pharmaceutical industry, emboldened by the Reagan-era belief in “limited government,” steadily pushed to deregulate DTC ads. In 1997, the FDA loosened advertising rules leading to an enormous increase in DTC ad spending.
I remember seeing a 60 Minutes segment on how advertising agencies come up with catchy acronums like IBS or RLS instead of the medical community. I search the web all over for the segment but couldn’t find it, but recall it was truly eye-opening.