Friday, November 13, 2009

Brace Yourself for Online Ad Onslaught from Drug Makers

Following up on my earlier discussion of drug advertising on television, yesterday the FDA opened a two day hearing to begin the process of  establishing rules and guidelines for how pharmaceutical companies should be allowed to utilize online information sources such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace to "distribute information" online. Over 800 people showed up to make their opinions heard, including drug company representatives, consumer advocate groups, medical professionals and "web company" (Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, etc.) spokespeople.

If you have read my prior post you already know what I think of this cynical ploy to convince yet more people to take drugs they don't need. Nothing said at the first day of hearings makes me change my distaste for it. "Drug advertising “has been one of the few cash cows remaining for traditional media like television and magazines,” says the Wall Street Journal, going on: ”Drug companies spent $4.4 billion on ads for prescription drugs last year....” Google, Yahoo and the others apparently strongly supported the drug companies push for online access direct to consumers because they felt they were "missing out" on the fortune to be made from the ads.

Hopefully somewhere in this circus there will be time to discuss the lack of educational content in TV ads, the increase in consumption of drugs driven by consumers asking their doctors for them and the total absence of any discussion of alternatives to popping expensive pills.

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