Drugs ads. They’re everywhere! Did you know that “prior to the 1980’s, it was illegal for prescription drug manufacturers in the United States to advertise directly to consumers (DTC). Instead, these companies advertised to medical professionals only…. By 2009, drug companies’ expenditures on DTC advertising had grown to $4.5 billion.” So say two Indiana University researchers from the Kelley School of Business. What does this mean for consumers? My colleague, Eric Nelson, writing for the February 16, 2016 edition of Communities Digital news, not only challenges the idea that health is dependent on drugs but also gives an inspiring alternative. Here’s Eric:
According to historian Nancy Tomes, author of “Remaking the American Patient: How Madison Avenue and Modern Medicine Turned Patients Into Consumers,” the onslaught of pharmaceutical ads we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing and hearing has been going on a lot longer than one might think. Ever since the dawn of the advertising age drug companies have pioneered the use of everything from direct-mail campaigns to product placements to infomercials.
“Whoever shouts the loudest sells the most,” said a pharmacist in the 1920s.
Going back even further, though, is the perhaps less frequent but no less insidious descriptions of disease that often accompany these ads. “A new name for an ailment affects people like a Parisian name for a novel garment,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, a woman whose efforts change the way we think about health began 150 years ago this month. “Every one hastens to get it.”
As silly as that may sound (no one actually wants to be sick, right?), Eddy’s point is clear: For as terrifying as disease can be, there’s something about it that can seem oddly alluring…..