06 Sep Should congress be more concerned about direct pharmaceutical ads to consumers or changing 340B Drug Discount Program that supports healthcare for many?
“Television is overly populated with ads for various pharmaceutical products and I’m SICK of it. (Is there a drug for that?) Viewers cannot watch more than 15 minutes of television without medicine being peddled for a pernicious or deadly condition with a pharmaceutical solution.
‘FOR PEOPLE WITH HEART FAILURE, TOMORROW IS NOT A GIVEN,’ voices a macabre announcer over a sad and somber rendition of ‘Tomorrow’ from the musical Annie! (I will not link the commercial on YouTube and thanks for ruining that song for me forever.)
Most commercials on television are there for a good reason: the audience is full of consumers; we buy things and we are enticed by television to purchase new or better products to enjoy. Repetition is key to sales, so while commercials annoy me, I understand why they are there. But that’s not the case with prescription medications. I can’t go out and buy pharmaceuticals because I, like the majority of the population watching television, am not a physician. I don’t know the difference between the TOMORROW IS NOT A GIVEN drug and a baby aspirin. How can I make an informed decision about which one is best for my medical condition? I can’t. That is why I pay serious coin to my doctors, who are up to date on the proper medication for my ailments. I hope my doctors will not prescribe me medicine based on my exposure to a 30- or60-second spot on television. Am I asking for the drug because I like the look of the ‘patients’ in the commercials or because I am thankful for just one more TOMORROW? (So ghoulish!) Or is it because I like the name — they all seem to have snazzy names now like ‘glitterazatol’ or ‘spazatopaderm’? Do I just go into my internist and ask for ‘jazzralpneril’ or ‘shazzamazine’ because it sounds cool? I hope you don’t have doctors who make serious medical decisions based on a patient’s TV commercial-based solution. (If any Big Pharma companies steal my made-up drug names, I’ll have my lawyers on you.)
All of this marketing costs a fortune. Axios reports: ‘Pharma ads often cost more because of their length. (They have regulatory requirements to disclose side effects, dosages, etc., so they often need to take out 60-second ads as opposed to 30-second ads.)’ So we aren’t talking about a standard marketing budget for products like the new tuna-fish-and-Skittles-flavored-Dorito-Taco-Bell burrito, but exponentially more dollars.
This massive expenditure on advertising by pharmaceutical commercials is curious in light of the industry’s recent attempt to worm out of a voluntary federal program known as ‘340B’ that requires these companies to offer hospitals critical drugs for Medicaid and uninsured patients at a greatly reduced cost. The program is paid for by the drug companies, not the taxpayer, thankfully because if the taxpayer was footing the bill for these drugs it would cost 10,000% more than the raw cost to the pharmaceutical companies.”