Our Daily Meds : How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves Into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs
Our Daily Meds : How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs by Melody Peterson is an interesting book. As some of you may know, I was an ICU nurse for 26 years before becoming crippled in 2001 by an attack by a patient’s family member fresh out of a psych hospital. So I have a tendency to look at what Ms Peterson is saying from a slightly different angle than a person who’s never worked in the Health Care field might. Some of the practices she talks about in this book, have been going on for decades. Such as the Drug companies intense wooing of Doctors to use their particular drug. They would even hold dinners and little semi parties for us nurses to try to get us to influence the dr to use drug X rather than Drug Y.
What is most interesting here is Ms Peterson’s very accurate description of how the Drug companies took little complains people had, like say going to the bathroom “too much” or “heartburn and gas” and turned them from things we “just lived with” to full fledged diseases. Which they just happened to have a drug to treat. She also talks about how people sometimes got serious side effects from a pill for a “simple medical problem” The example I’ll use here is Detrol, for “overactive bladder” that would cause mental confusion in the elderly (and not so elderly). And how sometimes a pill for a simple condition would cause a side effect that would then need yet another pill to be prescribed to combat the side effects.
Most of us in the Health Care field knew it was going to be trouble when the FTC and the FDA voted to allow drug companies to do TV ads. Initially, they were subtle ads about offering advice for a “condition” where the material they sent you would include a lot of info about a drug for the “condition” Then they became more and more blatant in their TV ads. Telling people to “ask their Doctor” to see if such and such med might help with the little problem they might have. It has ramped up from there to epic proportions. Health Care consumers need to be informed on their diseases, and choices in treatments. But they need to consult their Physician’s without any preconceived ideas like they get from the TV Drug ads. People who would demand to know everything about say a wine purchase or a consumer goods purchase, will meekly sit in their Doctor’s office and just do what they’re told. People need to ask questions, and be informed so they can make informed choices. Not to be sold whatever the Drug companies want to “push on them”.
But they also do more, as Ms Peterson informs us, they go out and sponsor events to “increase the visibility of their drugs” and they target women differently than men. Women get pitched at say a fashion show or such event, about concerns about their looks, or weight or appearance. While with men it’s keeping a big presence at Sporting Events where they just happen to have a tent to offer refreshments, with info about drugs for Baldness, or Erectile Dysfunction.
Then, there is the category of finding new uses for old drugs so that they can extend the patent, or making minor molecular modifications so they can market it as a completely new drug when it may only vary by a minor change. Finding new uses for old drugs can be beneficial though. I take a drug that was originally created and marketed as an anti-seizure medication that iis now more often used as a mood stabilizer. And there are numerous other advantages to that, such as Seroquel, which was originally and anti-psychotic med but is now used more often as a mood stabilizer and an anti-anxiety drug or a “safer” sleeping pill.
Our Daily Meds by Melody Peterson is in my somewhat humble opinion, a Highly Recommended book. To me it’s a must read for anyone who either takes or has a loved one who takes ANY medication. Which is why we’re recommending the cheaper paperback copy, as I think it should be read by as many consumers as possible. To be aware is to be forewarned. And you can’t make proper Health Care decisions without knowing what and how you’re being sold. It is also availible in a Kindle edition from Amazon.com for those who like reading E books.