Is that it? The sensational headline from Bloomberg makes me wonder why pharma is spending so little to promote its drugs. This would put pharma’s marketing and advertising at about 10.9% of sales…well below what other industries spend. Many industries spend 5-9% on advertising alone and can routinely spend upwards of 15-30% when you account for all promotion. So why is pharma spending so little?
But this article has a gem of a quote from Michael Weinstein, president of The AIDS Healthcare Foundation: “People are taking things they don’t need. These ads lead to overmedication.” Thank you Dr. Weinstein.
The message from Dr. Weinstein should be clear – all AIDS patients should STOP taking their medications. Immediately. After all, antiviral drugs are DTC advertised, so it must lead to an overuse of AIDS medications.
I touched on this in Patients Reject Dr. Michael Moore. What people like Michael Weinstein are really saying is, “Healthcare and pharmaceuticals are expensive. If we ration care, we’ll spend less. I want the best medications for my constituents (i.e., AIDS patients), but you shouldn’t have those same medications for yours (cancer patients, etc.).” What Weinstein and others are trying to do is no different than what the drug companies are trying to do - exert their influence over you and your doctor to make the decisions regarding your health.
We were having this exact same debate in 1998. Becky Logan was in her 70’s and read an Associated Press article that raised the same point as Dr. Weinstein is making – DTC “ads lead to overmedication.” She stopped taking her medication and died within the month. I hope that no patients out there are dumb enough to follow Michael Weinstein’s advice.
People should take comments from self-promoting pundits like Michael Weinstein with as much skepticism as the ads from drug companies. Both are trying to influence patients. The drug companies want you to use more of their products. The pundits want you to use less. Both are playing games with your health. The drug companies are playing for profits. The pundits are playing for politics.