Originally published October 8 2013
History of medicine fact #40: Drug ads were illegal on television in U.S. until 1997
by S. D. Wells
(NaturalNews) Selling prescription drugs to the general public is illegal, and even doctors cannot come to your home and sell you pharmaceuticals, yet television advertisements enter our home, usually between our favorite programs, and do exactly that. Since 1997, the United States government has allowed drug advertisers to tell you every reason you need their synthetic pills, but they only communicate a small portion of the side effects and dangers inherent in their use. The only obstacle to you ordering your prescription meds on the phone at that moment, or on line, is your quick visit to the doctor of your choice, and mentioning what you saw on television. In fact, drug companies can put ads on television for drugs with side effects which include heart attacks, strokes, internal bleeding and suicide, but not one single organic food or NATURAL SUPPLEMENT can ever claim to prevent or cure disorders or disease, or the advertisers face jail time. This is how upside down healthcare in the United States has become.
Today, the U.S. and New Zealand are the only industrialized countries to allow DTCA, or Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of drugs. All other countries explicitly ban it. Until 1997, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) made it nearly impossible, requiring all detail of a drug's side effects, effectiveness, and contraindications. Now, a drug ad only needs a "major statement" describing the risks, and then they just refer you to another source, like a toll-free number or website. By then, it's already too late. TV addicts and all the doubters of nutritional healing have heard the news, and they've heard the "symptoms" they have, and they heard that the answer comes in pill form. Plus, they saw the models on television, and they are all taking the drug and look so happy, and wealthy, and seem to be simply enjoying themselves!
How much does the drug industry spend on "direct to suckers" advertising?Big Pharma, meaning the entire pharmaceutical industry, spends well over $100 BILLION on advertising and promotion every year. When speaking of strictly television ads, light research shows about $5 billion, but that paltry figure quickly multiplies upon a closer look. In a Kaiser Family Foundation study back in 2003, Big Pharma promotional spending figures skyrocketed from "9.2 billion in 1996 to $19.1 billion in 2001, an average annual increase of 16 percent." Following that trend steadily would put the total tab around $76 BILLION in the year 2013. (http://knowledge.wpcarey.asu.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1555)
Why does drug advertising work?Advertising drugs, just like any product or service, builds name recognition, which in turn gets people to request those drugs from their doctors. Research shows that doctors comply with those requests two-thirds of the time! How easy is that? You name the drug you "think" you need, the doctor scribbles his initials on his "doctor" pad, you blaze over to the drug store and get "hooked up," and the doctor goes on an all expense paid luxurious vacation with the paycheck he/she gets from Big Pharma; no FDA regulations, no restrictions from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, no IRS interference, just business as usual in the grand ole' U.S. of A.
One AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) poll said half of the doctors surveyed said they are "pressured by their patients to prescribe a particular brand name drug." In other words, if the doctor doesn't write out that Cymbalta or Oxycodone prescription like the "sick and aching" person demands, he/she will lose business, and the "patient" will simply go to the other spin doctor down the road and get that fix. This is because the patient has already diagnosed his/herself by watching an advertisement on television which completely and totally addressed his/her symptoms, and promised relief, with limited and very quickly explained side-effects.
The FDA is in on the whole thingFirst of all, the FDA couldn't regulate 75,000 pharmaceuticals per year if they tried, so that was thrown out the window a while back. With fewer than 60 "review" officials, the FDA says they review thousands of ads, but can't get to them all. They CAN'T GET TO THEM ALL. This is the government of the United States of America outright admitting that some pharmaceutical companies (not even doctors) are selling prescription drugs on television without regulation whatsoever. Basically, if you are an advertising representative from a drug company, all you have to do is show the FDA a storyboard about your commercial, and you're good to go!
"There's no such thing as informed decision-making," says FDA safety researcher Dr. David Graham. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com) The FDA knows there are clones, zombies, tv dummies, and sick and achy people out there who believe in magic pills, and want to go on eating and drinking toxins, smoking and taking drugs, and searching for an ad on television for that perfect pill to fix their pain.
There are big payoffs bouncing between FDA officials, doctors, and Big Pharma, so the FDA is very hesitant to pull any advertising off the "shelves." Last year; for example, the FDA pulled only a couple dozen ads, compared with 157 in 1998, the first full year after the agency eased restrictions on consumer advertising.
In case you are interested, here is a summary list of DTC (Direct-To-Consumer) prescription drug TV ads, along with their published adverse side effects. Most doctors do not know much about the drugs they prescribe, they simply repeat what the brochure says, shifting from one drug to the next, depending on the prizes they get for "selling" them (prescribing) to you. Doctors are legally PAID TO PUSH DRUGS in America - the drugs you see on TV and request from them, and they are paid to minimize and trivialize the adverse side effects. (http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/medicine/prescription-drug-tv-ads.htm)
University of Georgia's (UGA) College of Journalism and Mass Communication revealed a recent study which shows the average 60 second ad containing fewer than 8 seconds of side effects disclaimers, and a 30 second commercial half of that. The UGA study also found out that most 15 second spots have NO DISCLAIMERS AT ALL. So what's the big deal? Well, coincidentally, every 15 minutes a person is killed by prescription drugs! So, unlike most other causes of preventable death that are on the decline, medication-induced deaths are on the upswing. The number of DRUG-INDUCED DEATHS exceeds the number of deaths caused by traffic accidents. Do the math and you find out that half a million Americans die every year from taking pharmaceutical drugs (http://www.naturalnews.com/024632_drug_drugs_death.html).
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