November 23, 2007

"Our prescribed drugs do extra duty as political sedatives."

Frederick C. Crews looks at the dynamics of "Big Pharma."
[T]he pharmaceutical companies haven't so much answered a need as turbocharged it. And because self-reporting is the only means by which nonpsychotic mental ailments come to notice, a wave of induced panic may wildly inflate the epidemiological numbers, which will then drive the funding of public health campaigns to combat the chosen affliction.

This dynamic also applies to a variety of commonplace if bothersome states that the drug makers want us to regard as chemically reparable. They range from excitability and poor concentration to menstrual and menopausal effects and "female sexual dysfunction," whose signature is frustration in bed with the presumably blameless husband or lover.... As patients on a prophylactic regimen, we are grateful for any risk reduction, however minuscule; but our gratitude leaves us disinclined to ask whether the progressively lowered thresholds for intervention were set without any commercial influence. In that sense our prescribed drugs do extra duty as political sedatives.


Bruce Hayden said...

I am not sure if I see what is wrong with that. Marketing has for decades identified needs and then pushed products to satisfy them.

The drugs, etc. that we see the most on TV seem to involve sex and sexual dysfunction, or at least non-optimal function. And I am sure that they are successful, with any number of men now asking whether Viagra or Cyalis is better for what is hurting their sexual performance.

But what must be remembered is that there is a real need for many of these drugs. So, for example, in our over-sexed environment, the Baby Boomers are having a hard time giving up sex, as the previous generations did (remember, this was the generation of Sex, Drugs, and Rock-and-Roll). That the drug companies saw this need and have exploited it should not be any surprise, or, indeed, really much of a cause for worry.

If there is an issue here, it is that so much of our medical care is paid for, at least initially, by third parties. So, the cost of wonder drugs is not immediately apparent to those availing themselves of the drugs.

George said...

Drug (or drug-related) ads,
Woman's Day, Jan. 2008:

Alli, Fibersure, Delsyn, Boniva, Vesicare, Liquibeads, Spiriva, Vyvanse, Crestor, Gardasil, Metabolife, Mirapex, RescueSleep, Ultram ER, NV Hoodia, Singulair, Kaneka QH, Abilify, Lysine, Blur Relief, Advair, Salada Tea (with flavanoid antioxidants), Dreamfields Healthy Carb pasta.

Drug (or drug-related) ads,
McCalls, August 1956:

Ipana, Colgate, Crest, Gleem, Unguentine, Dr. Scholl's Zino Pads, Murine, VitaSafe Vitamins.

No drug ads in in these publications.

Freder Frederson said...

My absolute favorite is Sally Field trying to convince us that taking one pill a week is such a huge, life-altering inconvenience that it is a curse equivalent to being on kidney dialysis and that we should fall down and worship the great and powerful drug company that came up with the pill that you only have to take once a month.

Now with all that extra time, you'll have time to read 'Remembrance of Things Past'.

Kirk Parker said...


That's an amusing picture, but how about helping me out in regard to what products she was talking about?

Freder Frederson said...

Boniva I think. Some Oestoperosis drug.

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