On 17 November 2015, the American Medical Association (AMA) called for an end to commercial ads touting prescription drugs.
At the time, the AMA posted on its website: “Physicians cited concerns that a growing proliferation of ads is driving demand for expensive treatments despite the clinical effectiveness of less costly alternatives.”
AMA Board Chair Patrice A. Harris had said,
“Today’s vote in support of an advertising ban reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially-driven promotions and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices. Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.”
In February 2017, Harvard Medical School published the article titled, “Do Not Get Sold on Drug Advertising.” It stated:
“Drug marketing is a big business, and companies are willing to spend a lot of money to offer you an easy solution to a health problem you may or may not have. From 2012 to 2015, yearly spending on prescription drug advertising in all media outlets (except digital) rose from $3.2 billion to $5.2 billion, and that figure is expected to only go up.”
The article confirmed the U.S. is the only country in the world, except for New Zealand, that allows drug companies to market directly to consumers.
This subject has come to light again after the interview Oprah Winfrey conducted with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (the Duke and Duchess of Sussex) on 7 March, which drew an audience of over 17 million, including many U.K. viewers.
Although tuning in to hear about the controversial couple and their departure from royal duties, according to The Insider, “British viewers took to Twitter during Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s bombshell interview with Oprah last night to question why pharmaceutical companies advertise directly to viewers.”
CBS paid between $7 to 9 million to air the interview, which was paid back in profits from hiked-up charges for commercials during the broadcast, including multiple ads for prescription drugs.
Following the interview, Twitter feeds from British viewers included:
“American adverts make me feel like I’m in some post-apocalyptic world.”
“American adverts are unhinged. Its wild how many drugs get casual ads.”
“Ask your doctor if PRIVATIZATION is right for you. (Side effects may include bankruptcy, medical treatment being denied, kids having to sell lemonade to pay for their cancer surgery, and reduced life expectancy.)”
“Only 20 minutes in and the tea is already getting hot! They’re really getting their money’s worth with these advert slots though, will never stop being wild to me that drug companies can advertise on TV in America”
“I’m watching the Meghan interview recording and yet again I can’t understand why American tv ads are like ‘ask your doctor for…’ or ‘tell your doctor…’ why the f**k would you be the one to tell a DOCTOR what medicine to give you?????”
“I remember the first time I saw American TV. Drugs, cars, food. Drugs that stop your food allergy symptoms. Processed shit that replaces real food. Drugs that help dampen the other drugs symptoms.”
Among the drugs advertised during the interview were:
- Kisqali, used to treat hormone-related breast cancer in women, whose website warns, “May cause severe or life-threatening inflammation of the lungs during treatment that may lead to death. Tell your health care provider right away if you have any new or worsening symptoms.”
- Jardiance, used to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes whose website warns, “Sudden kidney injury has happened in people taking Jardiance” and “Serious urinary tract infections can occur in people taking Jardiance and may lead to hospitalization.”
- Skyrizi, a treatment for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, whose website warns that the drug “may lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections and may increase your risk of infections.”
TRENDPOST: It was under Bill Clinton’s administration in 1997 that the FDA allowed drug ads on TV – before then, they were essentially prohibited. The year before, Clinton passed the “Telecommunications Act of 1996,” which overhauled almost 62 years of regulations, allowing the Bigs to take control of the mainstream media. As a result of this act, some six companies now control over 90 percent of the entire U.S. media.
As for the drug ads, according to FIERCE Pharma, Direct-to-Consumer drug ads are big moneymakers. They note:
“Study after study finds that patients follow the well-worn DTC advice and actually ‘ask your doctor’ about a condition or a specific medicine after they’ve seen ads for a prescription drug on TV or online. A DRG study found that among patients who saw digital ads for drugs, 42% requested a specific prescription from their doctors, while 22% of people who saw TV ads did the same. Another study, by Wharton and University of Southern California professors, estimated that for every 10% increase in advertising exposure, there was a corresponding increase in the number of prescriptions purchased by about 5%.”
TRENDPOST: Beyond the negative effects many of the advertised big Pharma drugs have on the American public was well documented in previous Trends Journal articles.
In our 11 February article, “FOREVER CHEMICALS: POISON ON TAP,” we detailed how huge amounts of prescription drugs were found in the water supply.
In our 9 March 2019 article, “AS FORECAST: ANTIBIOTICS RESISTANCE A CRISIS,” we covered how gross over-prescribing of antibiotics is creating a slew of new anti-resistant bacteria.
In our 8 October 2019 article, “DEA = DOA,” we wrote about how OxyContin, a commonly prescribed painkiller, was approved by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to increase its production by 400 percent even though it is among the top three opioids causing overdose and death.
Even though in 2019, adverse reaction to prescription drugs was the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S., killing some 128,000 Americans every year, according to the National Institute of Natural Healing, not only are these drugs allowed to be promoted through TV ads and other media outlets, the U.S. government actively finances the prescription drug industry. (See our 2 February article, “TAX DOLLARS BOOST DRUG DEALER PROFITS.”)
And, just last Thursday, Reuters reported, “Insider alleges Eli Lilly blocked her efforts to sound alarms about U.S. drug factory.”
The Reuters article reveals how a human resources manager, who was maintaining records of employee complaints about Eli Lilly’s manufacturing failures affecting many of the drugs being produced, had her locked desk broken into and her evidence stolen. As the article reported,
“In one case, according to 2018 emails among executives, company-mandated quality assurance documents were missing for Trulicity, which security filings show garnered more than $4 billion in sales in 2019.” The human resources manager was told the company was ‘eliminating her position’…
On Tuesday [9 March] several days after receiving detailed questions from Reuters, Lilly announced the retirements of two senior vice presidents: Myles O’Neill, who heads Lilly’s manufacturing operations, and Melissa Barnes, who is chief ethics and compliance officer. The company claimed the timing was just a coincidence and part of Eli Lilly’s ‘robust succession planning process.’”