Going to the doctor’s office is never a fun experience. Probing, poking, and trying to decipher what the doc writes on your prescription can be confusing, however, the most upsetting part is what goes on behind closed doors. Big Pharma, chapter 3 of Lies the Media Tells Us, explains the PR tactics of drug companies. James Winter explains these tactics used to persuade doctors to use their brand. In some cases these doctors can get free vacations, cars, front row seating for a basketball game, and a stack of cash. The doctors that respond to these tactics are completely unethical.
Doctors have the responsibility to prescribe the best drugs for their patients. Although many Doctors pick what gives the best gift package. Doctors have also been known to push drugs onto patients that may not really need it. This is due to the continual widening of guidelines. This widening is increasing proportions of the population so there are more candidates that fit into the category. This is when a condition gets called a disease. The best case scenario of this is Viagra. Viagra is for male sexual deficiency that has been shoved down America’s throat.
There were many discrete commercials about it during day time air and more explicit commercials at night. There were also several celebrity endorsements, Hugh Hefner was glorified for being a user. What drug companies aim for are life-long medication users. These candidates are a gold mine for companies because they have created a dependency for the drug. Another highly publicized “disease” is high cholesterol. The Pfizer drug company has pushed their cholesterol pills for a decade now and all the marketing has worked. However, what they don’t tell you is that these pills run the risk of having more side effects than lowering cholesterol.
By law these commercials need to state the side effects but when your being prescribed most doctors don’t dwell on these facts. This is wrong when there are better natural forms available. Although Doctors rarely discuss this with patients because these natural forms are very cheap or in some cases completely free. A healthy diet, naps, and some exercise are all examples of ways to lower cholesterol without taking prescribed pills. The push to take pills to help medical problems has completely consumed our country. In my opinion I feel that this correlates with the rise of plastic surgery.
The easy way out is very popular among all ages because the time and effort that exercise or healthy diets needs is not necessary when pills and plastic surgery are in reach. These pharmaceutical companies adore patients that take their medicine and don’t ask questions. But what happens to the people that do? Not all doctors are shady and unethical. Nancy Olivieri and Dr. David Healy are true whistleblowers. Both have tried to get the medias attention to worn the public about unsafe drugs. Unfortunately, their good deed put them through heavy backlash and court cases.
Olivieri and Healy saw their colleagues turn their backs on them and were fired. This is a tough price to pay when they were trying to do the right thing. Pharmaceutical companies can get away with all of this because they have the money. They pay off whistleblowers, they perform under the table deals with doctors, have multi-million dollar campaign ads for their drugs, and have celebrity endorsers. Although these tactics are very unethical there is one more that upset me the most. This is ghostwriting. Ghostwriting is a doctor that works for the drug company and writes an article for a drug that gets published in a medical journal.
Lots of doctors write for medical journals but what separates them is their lack of honesty. These ghostwriters don’t say their affiliated with the pharmaceutical and praise the drug that the company wants to endorse. When these companies get articles published about their drug its free advertising. So when other doctors read the article their actually looking at an advertisement but they don’t know it. These medical journals are supposed to be unbiased and legitimate. This is undermining why these medical journals are published and taken so seriously. In my opinion this is the worst thing a pharmaceutical company can do.
PR is a huge branch within the pharmaceutical company and they all have about the same strategies when a drug scandal breaks. I feel that this is crucial to why these companies have gotten away with so much. Their first tactic is denial. Like a child they deny everything and have accused the media of sensationalism and attack their accuracy of reporting. If the scandal doesn’t dissipate after they have three different options. First they could shutdown, this consists of claiming their is a conspiracy. Second option is an extrication which is hiring high priced lawyers to find an escape route or third which is purging.
Purging is very interesting because they basically pick an employee in their own company, pay them to take the rap, and then tell everyone it was the employees fault. Most of the time they try to get someone that is going to retire; I guess everyone has a price. The last option of the pharm co. is the most used. This is the compensation tactic. The drug company offers the plaintiff a large settlement as long as the plaintiff agrees there was no malpractice. This corrupt business isn’t that big of a shock. Where ever their is a lot of money there is usually some unethical practices. However, I feel that their money has way too much control.
Their funds are practically endless and they will come up with any lie to make more money. After reading this chapter I thought about Obama’s healthcare reform. I think the reason why their is so much backlash is because the pharmaceutical companies are scared about the future and if they will be able to keep these shenanigans going. I like the idea of Obama’s healthcare but I know that these companies will weasel their unethical views into it. Honestly, I don’t think there is anyway to stop this unless everyone working for these companies is fired and it is started back up from scratch.
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