By Marta A.
The abuse of prescription drugs is no secret. In the United States, 52 million people over the age of 12 have abused prescription in their lifetime. But why is this number so high?
One of the causes is the advertising and pressure from pharmaceutical companies, not just to us consumers, but also to the doctors prescribing them. As much as we want to think the medical industry has our best interest in mind, this is not necessarily true. It is just a business like any other, where money is the most important thing. In 2012, over $3 billion was spent by the pharmaceutical industry on advertising consumers, yet $24 billion on advertising and marketing to doctors. This is because in order to buy the drugs, you need a doctor’s permission. Knowing this, the industry has taken advertising to a different level from free lunches to free samples. One study even found that 9 out of 10 large pharmaceutical companies spent more money on marketing than research. Most common marketing strategies include:
Detailing – This is when the pharmaceutical sales representatives, who are often young attractive people with little to no medical training, meet face-to-face with the doctors, physicians and/or pharmacy directors. This includes bringing the doctors free meals, going to a restaurant and giving various other gifts.
Samples – They are given both to physicians and consumers. Whilst companies say that they are for needy patients, they often go to rich patients and/or patients who are covered by insurance. This is because they tend to be prescribed the sample drug for a period of time rather than to experiment with other courses of treatment.
Educational and Promotional Meetings – Representatives meet with doctors to discuss that use of certain drugs.
Promotional mailing – Brochures are distributed at doctors’ offices describing the drugs.
Journal and web advertising – This advertising can include listing the effectiveness of the drug, but not necessarily the risks.
Thought leaders – This is when pharmaceutical sales representatives tell doctors to tell other doctors about their product, occasionally with a previously discussed script.
Furthermore, the excess advertising and pressure along with all these bargains, lead to doctors prescribing drugs that the patient does not necessarily need to take. This can have very bad side effects which deteriorate your health. All these different methods expose the dark truth behind this industry that is supposed to help us prosper into a healthy society. They are just another industry made up of money-motivated businesses that will stop at nothing to make some cash.