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Sunday, August 20, 2006 

Take a Pill

So pretty. So colourful. So available.

All of my home medication fits in one small basket on top of my microwave. If you were to look inside today, you'd find some headache pills, indigestion tablets, allergy medicationvitamins, anti-bacterial creams, cough syrup, some anti-itch spray and, of course...Band-Aids. This list of supplies has remained relatively unchanged for the past 8 years and it's served my family well. Every now and again, I had prescriptions filled for some antibiotics for the more persistant viruses.

I believed I had a well-stocked home pharmacy until I started watching TV here in Canada. Instead of being bombarded with car and weight loss commercials during prime time viewing, I am now subjected to countless advertisements for prescription drugs.

I am told to consult my doctor for medications to help me sleep at night, to improve my sex life, to help my loved ones battle urinary incontinence, psoriasis, high blood pressure and a host of other medical problems. There seems to be a drug for everything and all I need to do is choose which ailment I have and get him to prescribe the specific drug for it. Even better, I can play doctor and pick a drug for my loved one as well and cure them too.

This can't be good.

I do not feel reassured knowing that pharmaceutical companies are no longer content directly influencing doctors to prescribe their drugs, but they are hell bent on influencing people with absolutely no medical background to demand medication they know nothing about except their mistaken belief that they'll be able to live happily ever after if they consume it.

Promoting healthy eating and exercising have taken a back seat to the quick-fix remedies of taking pills for all that ails you. It's doubtful that people would even be affected by stronger heathy lifestyle advertising campaigns anyway since it's so much more time consuming. Why bother going through the trouble of cutting down on fatty foods or stress when you can just take a pill to control it? The pharma companies rely on our own failure to regulate our lives and we're more than happy to let them do it...even if the side-effects outweigh the benefits of their medications.

The only upside to a drugged-up nation is that PETA won't have to protest animal testing at drug labs anymore. The drug companies have millions of willing human guinea pigs instead.

With all the advertising pressure drug companies use to push their products, how can I be sure if I actually NEED the drug I'm prescribed let alone whether it's any good for me? When profits and money are the motivating factors behind my health and well-being, I worry. I know it won't concern them since they have a drug for that too.

hiya seawitch ,,

i can see youre doing just fine and getting back in the hype of things ,,

interestingly enough there have been a lot of articles lately on pharmaceutical counter medication
and youve hit the nail on the head ,, yesterday the newspaper KATHIMERINI had an article on the same subject calling all this newfangled stuff .......


and calling on the pharmaceutical companies that theyre making new drugs based on how many new afflictions they can create ..

i wonder if the researchers could find answers to all the worlds medical problems do they really need to create new ones ,, just to stay in business ,,, i wonder

anyways great to see ya up and at em ,, and settlin down is still a fun procedure so stay well and have fun.


The pharmaceutical companies spend years and billions of dollars in R&D creating a new drug only to have their patent protection run out in a year or two ...which means the drug can then be copied and produced in a much cheaper generic form. So in order to fund cancer, alzheimer's, AIDS and other "big disease" R&D, they need to make money off their "lifestyle" drugs.

I'd like to see if the mortality rates change in 30 years. If we're living longer because we've found a cure for cancer and heart disease, then I'd say it's a fair trade.

Oh, how I agree with this post SeaWitch. It just cannot be a good thing when medicine becomes just another lifestyle product being advertised and sold in the capitalistic market. Partly because of the lack of incentive this creates for REAL necesarry lifestyle change and partly because of the risk of overmedication. There is a reason why doctors go to medical school for 6-7 years, but it is getting harder and harder for them to control the medication of their patients. After all if a doctor is not cooperative with his prescriptions for the drugs you think you need, then you can always find a new one who does want yourbusiness.

As for the medical companies I doubt very much that any one drug they produce is unprofitable. Thus I don't buy the theory that they need to earn on the lifestyle drugs to finance altruistic big disease cures. Any drug that does not promise economic balance or profit in it's own right won't get researched no matter how much the company earns on other drugs. There is so much pressure on corporate leaders to present ever bigger profits and if as a corporate leader you outdo your competitors in this area then outlandish awards await you.

Personally I would like to see some sort of global medical fund sort part of the problem by offering to buy up patents from medical companies at competitive prices and then give them free for everyone to use (Including poor third world governments). That would encourage R&D also in less profitable areas such as the type of AIDS found in sub-saharan Africa. And even existing drugs would suddenly be cheap enough for everyone to afford them regardless of income.

Well, it is nice to see that things haven't changed much in North America in the 4 years since I've left. I remember how amazed Thanos was when he visited me in America - all the drug commercials talking about how wonderful the drug is, followed by a laundry list of side effects (side effects may include dizziness, loss of appetite, no sex drive, and death! oh yay!). I have to wonder how annoyed doctors are at the constant request for all these medications, although I hate to say that some doctors are probably on retainer from these drug companies to get them to prescribe their drugs.

People should be trying to get off medications, not on them.

I agree with you that it is not good for them to be advertising prescription medicines on TV or in magazine inserts. I think only Dr.s with MD should prescribe medicines.

Well, at least Huey Lewis will have an excuse for a comeback now.

zardoz...Yes, I am doing just fine and trying to find the time to blog some more.
Lifestyle Medication. An unassuming moniker for legalized addictive drugs. I wonder which pharma giant's PR firm came up with that name. LOL

queenbee...Obviously, you haven't read my other post on just how much the pharmaceutical companies are making off their drugs and all the dirty tricks they get up to in the clinical trials. You might want to check it out first (I've linked to it on the post as 'profits and money' near the bottom) before you praise them for their 'altruistic' work.

esbenAnd of course, I agree with you. As I said to the Bee, I covered just how much money they're making off drugs...both FDA approved and those in clinical trials. The 5 top pharma companies are raking in billions in profits and at the same time crying "poverty" when it comes to distributing life saving meds to 3rd World countries.

mel...Another good point...the list of side effects of this lifestyle enhancing drugs. The problems they can cause once you take them most likely means you'll have to keep taking more drugs to counterbalance the side effects of the ones you're already on. No wonder everyone's medicine cabinets here are jam packed with the stuff.

j.doe...I can live with that solution but the drug reps lining up to see my family doctor suggests to me that they're going to get their way in the short run anyway.

tim...hahahaha! And he certainly has a list to choose from!

I sit corrected. I have been contacted by a higher authority (aka "Dad") who has told me in no uncertain times that my previous post sounds like I am supporting the behemoth drug companies and their out-of-control pricing structures for medications.

Upon review of my hastily typed post, I agree with him. (Hear that Dad? I AGREE with you!)

I did not mean to say I supported the pharms' rationale for the cost of drugs...I was just playing devil's advocate. I should not have spouted off their rhetoric in defense of them. I should have stuck to my facts which I usually do.

I also need to address this "direct-to-consumer" advertising trend raised in the Witch's blog.

So folks...here are the facts:

According to the Boston University of Public Health, the pharmaceutical industry is "the most profitable industry in the United States with return on equity of a whopping 39.4%. While the drug companies claim that 20% of the cost of a new drug is due to research costs that may be misleading. Rolled into that 20% cost is the cost for marketing research."

The United States does not limit the price that can be charged for drugs as most other countries do. Canada places a limit on the price that can be charged by the drug companies on prescription drugs. With those limits the price may be half or less than what is being paid in the U.S.

U.S. pharmas have 17-20 years of patent protection on a new drug which they will often extend with loopholes (a 30-month stay) by re-registering their patents. For example, they make take a cancer drug whose patent is about to expire and re-package it in a brown bottle saying that the brown bottle is an innovation that increases the potency of the drug by limiting the amount of light into bottle. By doing this, they can increase their patent protection by another 30 months--making it take longer for low-cost generic drugs to hit the market.

The following facts are presented by the Kaiser Family Foundation Prescription Drug Trends Fact Sheet (June 2006):

Spending in the US for prescription drugs was $188.5 billion in 2004, over 4½ times more than the $40.3 billion spent in 1990.

Advertising directed toward consumers increased 5% in 2005 (from $4.0 to $4.2 billion), while the share directed toward physicians declined by 8% (from $7.8 to $7.2 billion).

Spending for consumer advertising in 2005 was over 5 times the amount spent in 1996 ($.8 billion), while
2005 physician advertising was 2 times the 1996 amount ($3.5 billion).

From 1995-2002, pharmaceutical
manufacturers were the nation’s most profitable industry. In 2003 and 2004 they ranked 3rd. In 2005
they ranked 5th, with profits (return on revenues) of
16% compared to 6% for all Fortune 500 firms.

So there you have it. The pharms are raking in the profits on the backs, rumps, lumps and ailments of the sick. And if you're not sick...they'll make you think you are with their direct-to-consumer advertising. They have realized that doctors cannot prescribe drugs to people who don't have symptoms. So they will advertise to the great unwashed, convincing them they have ailments that need to be cured. That way...the pharms are covering both ends of the equation--tell people they need the drug and prompt them to visit their doctors with the grocery list of symptoms. The doctors then realize that the brochure they received last week on a specific drug will cure their patient.

As the most profitable industry in America (even ahead of BANKS ugh), pharmaceutical companies need to be reigned in. They can still turn a respectable profit...but a socially responsible one.

Now...I shall wait to see what dearest Daddy says about this post...

Phentermine is one drug that can be credited to for starting the trend of weight loss drugs. Unfortunately, phentermine side effects proved to be a death knell for the drug. The problem lied with the fact that the drug yielded the side effects even when it was had on prescription. It meted out really fatal effects on the heart and these incidents became so rapid that the authorities decided to pull the drug out of the market.

I agree with you. Pharma companies directly advertising drugs to laymen is risky!!

We should use our discretion!

This is Ibrahim from Israeli Uncensored News

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