Los Angeles Times Examines Pharmaceutical Industry Influence On Physicians, Consumers
The Los Angeles Times on Monday featured a series ofarticles titled "Sold on Drugs" that examines the effect of drugmanufacturers' marketing techniques on physicians and consumers.Summaries appear below.
- "Underthe Influence: Savvy Marketing Whets Our Appetite for PrescriptionPharmaceuticals. Consumers, Doctors, Researchers -- No One Is Immune":Drug makers "do everything in their considerable power to ensure thattheir brand-name prescription medications are on the lips of patientsand in the minds of physicians every time the two meet across an examtable," the Times reports. The Timescontinues, "A growing chorus of critics says their efforts have begunto rewrite the dialogue between patient and doctor, influencephysicians' judgments and open the act of prescribing to forces moreprofit-minded than sacred" (Healy , Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
- "From Funding to Findings: When Drug Companies Conduct Research on New Pharmaceuticals, Outcomes May Be Affected -- Greatly":"[M]edical researchers, academic authorities and influentialspecialists are key players" in the commercial success of a drug, the Timesreports. Drug manufacturers "build a corps of respected universityexperts who have lengthy experience with a drug prospect, financialties to the firm that paid them to study it and, often, a direct stakein its success" when the companies form "commercial partnerships withuniversities, endow academic programs and teaching chairs, and payacademic medical centers to run clinical trials," according to the Times (Healy , Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
- "Doctor, Just a Little Something for You: Complex Sales Strategies Go Way Beyond Freebies":Drug companies "focus the bulk of their marketing budgets to influence"physician prescribing habits, which "profoundly affect sales of a drugcompany's products," the Times reports. The Timesnotes that drug makers' marketing tactics "reach into physicians'offices, pervade their medical specialty organizations and often shapethe messages that doctors receive in educational settings" (Healy , Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
- "NextStep: Create the Demand; Direct, Emotional Ads for Prescription DrugsAre Everywhere. But They're Just One Way To Get to the Consumer":"With vast and profitable markets up for grabs, drug companies areaggressively reaching beyond doctors and taking their marketingmessages directly to consumers," the Times reports. FDAin 1997 loosened regulation of direct-to-consumer advertising, a changethat "set off explosive growth in marketing aimed at a general audiencelong on interest and -- compared with physicians -- short onprofessional skepticism," according to the Times (Healy , Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
- "InShort, Marketing Works: By Targeting Consumers and Doctors -- Directlyand Indirectly -- Drug Makers Are Driving Sales. Why Argue With Success?":"The pharmaceutical industry defends its promotional spending as aservice to science, physicians and patients," and the ads "also,indisputably, boost sales," the Times reports. The Timescontinues, "Physicians see marketing's effects on their patients everyday," but "ask the doctors whether the marketing influences theirclinical judgments or prescribing behavior, and a chill will descendupon the room," according to researchers who have posed such questionsto physicians (Healy , Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
- "AndNow, a Push for Change: Legislators Have Begun To Question the DrugIndustry's Pervasive Influence in Health Care. Some Doctors Are BackingThem Up": "In recent years, politicians, consumers and physicianshave begun to question sharply the effect of drug makers' commercialappeals," the Times reports. "Medical societies andpatients groups are quietly debating the wisdom of their dependence ondrug companies' largesse," and physicians "are rethinking, or at leastdisclosing, their ties to drug companies," according to the Times. In addition, lawmakers "are drafting and passing bills aimed at blunting the effects of prescription drug marketing," the Times reports (Healy , Los Angeles Times, 8/6).
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