Drug Industry Influences Consumers, Care Providers
The Los Angeles Times on Monday featured a series of articles titled "Sold on Drugs" that examines the effect of drug manufacturers' marketing techniques on physicians and consumers. Summaries appear below.
- "Under the Influence: Savvy Marketing Whets Our Appetite for Prescription Pharmaceuticals. Consumers, Doctors, Researchers -- No One Is Immune": Drug makers "do everything in their considerable power to ensure that their brand-name prescription medications are on the lips of patients and in the minds of physicians every time the two meet across an exam table," the Times reports. The Times continues, "A growing chorus of critics says their efforts have begun to rewrite the dialogue between patient and doctor, influence physicians' judgments and open the act of prescribing to forces more profit-minded than sacred" (Healy , Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
- "From Funding to Findings: When Drug Companies Conduct Research on New Pharmaceuticals, Outcomes May Be Affected -- Greatly": "[M]edical researchers, academic authorities and influential specialists are key players" in the commercial success of a drug, the Times reports. Drug manufacturers "build a corps of respected university experts who have lengthy experience with a drug prospect, financial ties to the firm that paid them to study it and, often, a direct stake in its success" when the companies form "commercial partnerships with universities, endow academic programs and teaching chairs, and pay academic medical centers to run clinical trials," according to the Times (Healy , Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
- "Doctor, Just a Little Something for You: Complex Sales Strategies Go Way Beyond Freebies": Drug companies "focus the bulk of their marketing budgets to influence" physician prescribing habits, which "profoundly affect sales of a drug company's products," the Times reports. The Times notes that drug makers' marketing tactics "reach into physicians' offices, pervade their medical specialty organizations and often shape the messages that doctors receive in educational settings" (Healy , Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
- "Next Step: Create the Demand; Direct, Emotional Ads for Prescription Drugs Are Everywhere. But They're Just One Way To Get to the Consumer": "With vast and profitable markets up for grabs, drug companies are aggressively reaching beyond doctors and taking their marketing messages directly to consumers," the Times reports. FDA in 1997 loosened regulation of direct-to-consumer advertising, a change that "set off explosive growth in marketing aimed at a general audience long on interest and -- compared with physicians -- short on professional skepticism," according to the Times (Healy , Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
- "In Short, Marketing Works: By Targeting Consumers and Doctors -- Directly and Indirectly -- Drug Makers Are Driving Sales. Why Argue With Success?": "The pharmaceutical industry defends its promotional spending as a service to science, physicians and patients," and the ads "also, indisputably, boost sales," the Times reports. The Times continues, "Physicians see marketing's effects on their patients every day," but "ask the doctors whether the marketing influences their clinical judgments or prescribing behavior, and a chill will descend upon the room," according to researchers who have posed such questions to physicians (Healy , Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
- "And Now, a Push for Change: Legislators Have Begun To Question the Drug Industry's Pervasive Influence in Health Care. Some Doctors Are Backing Them Up": "In recent years, politicians, consumers and physicians have begun to question sharply the effect of drug makers' commercial appeals," the Times reports. "Medical societies and patients groups are quietly debating the wisdom of their dependence on drug companies' largesse," and physicians "are rethinking, or at least disclosing, their ties to drug companies," according to the Times. In addition, lawmakers "are drafting and passing bills aimed at blunting the effects of prescription drug marketing," the Times reports (Healy , Los Angeles Times, 8/6).