TV watchers who have to wade through drug commercials, which not only tout the benefits of their new found wonder-drug but also elaborate the downsides with a huge list of possible complications that often includes “death,” may not be seeing those commercials anymore. The American Medical Association (AMA) is putting together some political clout to end the onslaught of patients requesting drugs they’ve heard about on TV. At a recent gathering of doctors in Atlanta, the decision was made to call for a ban on drug commercials on TV and in magazines. It turns out that the United States is one of the only countries that allows drug companies to market directly to end users. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, natural health expert, in 2008, the House Commerce Committee found that every $1,000 spent on drug ads produced 24 new patients and a 2003 research report found that prescription rates for drugs promoted with direct to consumer ads were nearly seven times more effective than those without such promos. “Ethics aside, these consumer hustles have proven to be profit bonanzas,” says Mercola,” “It’s a disgusting, dishonorable way to generate sales – but it works.”
Massive marketing campaigns are nothing new to large pharmaceutical companies whose prices are dramatically higher in the US than anywhere else in the world. The pharmaceutical industry arose in the 1960’s by donating large sums of money to medical schools to secure their position in academia not only to rule out any discussion about natural herbal medicine that has been used for thousands of years, but have learned to base most treatments around a drug protocol. They’re still dumping huge sums of money into politics and marketing. Big pharma spent $4.54 billion on ads in 2014 which was 21% higher than the previous year with the claim that ads help the patients learn more about possible treatments for their diseases.
The influential tentacles of big pharma have woven their way into Washington politics, backing certain candidates with large political investments hoping for a return on their money with new, looser restrictions. And how’s this for no oversight, these companies are allowed to test their own products and are not required to allow the data to be available to a neutral third party. No wonder the approval rate of the FDA has gone from 33% in 2008 to 96% this year. They’re not producing better drugs, just better reporting.
The elusive power of advertising images of health, wellness and the relief of suffering are hard to resist when viewers are exposed to them nightly. People with ailments should explore all their options, even beyond the TV and the doctor.