Our Daily Meds: How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs (1st Edition)
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Publish Year note: First published March 18th 2008
In the last thirty years, the big pharmaceutical companies have transformed themselves into marketing machines selling dangerous medicines as if they were Coca-Cola or Cadillacs. They pitch drugs with video games and soft cuddly toys for children; promote them in churches and subways, at NASCAR races and state fairs. They've become experts at promoting fear of disease, just so they can sell us hope.
No question: drugs can save lives. But the relentless marketing that has enriched corporate executives and sent stock prices soaring has come with a dark side. Prescription pills taken as directed by physicians are estimated to kill one American every five minutes. And that figure doesn't reflect the damage done as the overmedicated take to the roads.
Our Daily Meds connects the dots for the first time to show how corporate salesmanship has triumphed over science inside the biggest pharmaceutical companies and, in turn, how this promotion driven industry has taken over the practice of medicine and is changing American life.
It is an ageless story of the battle between good and evil, with potentially life-changing consequences for everyone, not just the 65 percent of Americans who unscrew a prescription cap every day. An industry with the promise to help so many is now leaving a legacy of needless harm.
that had caused the congestive heart failure. They said nothing about noting the harm caused by the diuretic pills on the death certificate even though they had concluded that the medicine brought on the death. This line of reasoning takes all blame off the medicine and the doctor, who may have prescribed a dose of diuretics that was too high. The doctor also may have failed to monitor the levels of sodium in the patient’s body, even though such tests might have found the problem before it became
nation invested in keeping people healthy and actually preventing disease rather than spending ever more on expensive pills. Another way of looking at the value of all these new medicines the industry has sold in the last twenty-five years is to take a global view. In 1980 a sixty-five-year-old American woman could be comforted by the fact that her expected life span was longer than that of her contemporaries living almost anywhere else in the world. Now, with access to an almost unlimited
whether new restrictions should be put on the marketing efforts of pharmaceutical companies. “We were helpless”: Letter written by Mrs. Albert F. Rust on Oct. 1, 2002, and sent to the Office of Inspector General in response to the same request for public comment. 10 percent of the price…raw chemicals and manufacturing: Melody Petersen, “Lifting the Curtain on the Real Costs of Making AIDS Drugs,” The New York Times, Apr. 24, 2001. sixteen cents of each dollar of revenue into profit: Exhibit
de la médecine (Paris: Gallimard, 1924). Also see I. Bamforth, “Knock: A Study of Medical Cynicism,” Medical Humanities, June 2002. Watching their salaries stall: See Hoangmai Pham, et al., “Financial Pressures Spur Physician Entrepreneurialism,” Health Affairs, March–Apr. 2004. Also see Deborah Borfitz, “Make Your Practices More Profitable,” Medical Economics, Jan. 8, 2001. Dr. Martin Keller…at Brown: Alison Bass, “Drug Companies Enrich Brown Professor,” The Boston Globe, Oct. 4, 1999. Dr.
least forty more cases had occurred in Hamburg in the last two years. Before thalidomide was introduced, phocomelia had been so rare in Germany that most doctors did not see a case in their lifetime. After the newspaper revealed the horrors that Dr. Lenz had found, Grünenthal removed thalidomide from the market in Germany. Other countries also quickly halted its sales. Thousands more Americans would have taken the sedative if it had not been for a doctor at the FDA named Frances O. Kelsey. She