The Madness Of Marketing Medications

The top-10 Pharma companies spent $30Billion more on Marketing than they did on R&D. Wtf??

How do you know which medications are right for you? How do you know that you are being prescribed the best option? The answer is, you rarely do. 

But nearly every single pharmaceutical ad ends with the line..."Ask your doctor if (Medication X) is right for you." "Ahh...ask the experts, good advice. That's where I'll find the answers!" Or is it? 

Trick Or Treat

The line "Ask Your Doctor" is just a marketing driven 'call to action'. Pfizer isn't offering a precautionary warning. "Ask Your Doctor if..." is actually an evil-genius marketing trick. Here is why.

Reason 1: It feels safe. We are taught from an early age to trust our authorities and experts. So a lot of people blindly trust their doctor, the expert. 

Reason 2: Big pharma are allowed to market directly to doctors (with some regulation luckily). Here marketing become more like bribery.

Reason 3: If we need medication, we have to go to the one who can prescribe it, our doctors (the one we trust!)

Reason 4: When we need medication, we just want to make the problem go away. Quickly. So we salivate for a trusted solution. 

Reason 5: There aren't really any resources to help verify the quality, the cost or the statistics of the medication your doc suggests.

So, if you are lucky, it is one of the many doctors who get into medicine for the right reasons and they prescribe the best option available to you. But unfortunately, pharam has so much influence in healthcare that your doctor may be more incentivized by financial rewards from Pfizer. If they are, odds are, you get Pfizer's option. It might be the best option or it might be the 5th best option. But who are you to question your doctor?

But Are Doctors Really Incentivized 

As the data below shows, pharma clearly invests more in finding clever ways to get you to take 'their' drugs than they do in developing better ones. R&D Spend = $65.8 Billion. Marketing Spend = $96.1 Billion.

Study by Research firm GlobalData 

But the scary part is, pharma spends between 80%-90% of their marketing budget on direct to doctor/clinician marketing. So basically, pharma invests $Billions to convince your doctor, the one you trust, to sell their product. They incentivize the person that you rarely question to prescribes a product you won't find much useful information about!  

John Oliver, host of the show, Last Week Tonight offers a funny, scary as hell perspective of just how bad the problem is. 

This post simply aims to provide an honest insight into how certain parts of healthcare work. So when you are visiting your doctor and meds are being prescribed, just know that you may be the only one in the room with your best interest in mind. Don't just accept what you are told.  

After all, pharmaceuticals drugs kill more people each year than AIDS and Diabetes. These legal drugs are the 4th leading cause of death world-wide according to the FDA.

Questions For You To Ask: Take Control

If you are getting ready to visit a doctor and be prescribed medication, here are a few questions you can ask to make sure you are getting the best meds and sponsoring not a golf trip to Bermuda. 

  1. Are there no non-drug options I could try first? 
    - Medication should not be a quick fix solution. Look for a organic option first.
  2. What are the pro's and con's of this medication versus other options available in the market? 
    - At the very least you want to hear them tell you the other options. 
  3. If you were diagnosed with (reason you are visiting), would you personally take this option? 
    - It is doubtful that you get a NO here but at the very least you will create a anxious moment if your doc is in pharam's pocket.
  4. Are you sponsored by any pharmaceutical companies?
    - if you don't feel comfortable, just come out and ask it. Save this until the end. If they are sponsored, find out by whom. Then Google the name of the medication to see who makes it. 
    - They will take offense to this but they aren't the ones taking the medication. Get the answers you need and deserve. 

If your doctor is suggesting that you switch from one medication to another, you should ask this question. 

  1. Why is this new drug better for me than what I was taking? 
    - It’s another chance for you to get more information about your condition and the new research that’s out there. 

I hope these questions will help. I also hope that you never have to wonder if the decisions being made about your life are really being made to improve someone else's. 


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