How other doctors (but not you, of course) are influenced by Big Pharma

The pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars each year on handing out free samples of their expensive brand name drugs to physicians, who in turn hand them out to their patients.  As I’ve written about here and here, the obvious marketing truth is that no company would be doing this unless the strategy resulted in a significant increase in sales of those drugs.  When you’re looking at a global market for pharmaceuticals expected to top $1.1 trillion by next year, that’s a substantial incentive to keep up this practice. Still, very few physicians believe that doctors accepting billions of dollars in free drug samples annually has the slightest bit of influence on the way they practice medicine. Except, of course, when it’s those other docs out there who are accepting the freebies.  Continue reading

Universal cholesterol screening for little kids?

November 11, 2011 was a happy day for Big Pharma. That’s the day when The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute issued new guidelines recommending that every child’s first cholesterol check should occur before the kid hits puberty, between the age of 9-11.  As the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, the guidelines also come amid broad concern about growing numbers of children who are overweight or obese (as about 17% of the little darlings are, triple the level from three decades ago).

These children, say those who wrote these guidelines, are thus potentially on course for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and other serious health problems as adults.

With all due respect to the very smart doctors who came up with what amounts to a resounding high-five victory for marketing-based medicine, I feel compelled to ask:

“What were you thinking?”

Even though the new guidelines contain a mandatory cautionary note (“Drugs? What drugs?”) the corporate pharmaceutical windfall that’s implicit in them is worth celebrating if you happen to own stock in Big Pharma.   Continue reading

Paying celebrities to shill your drugs

Allergan’s Latisse is an eyelash-growing drug prescribed to treat a condition called hypotrichosis. This is a condition of no hair growth (not to be confused with the condition of alopecia, which describes hair loss where formerly there was hair growth).  That’s not how Allergan chose to describe the condition of hypotrichosis on its Latisse Patient Information sheet:

“Hypotrichosis is another name for having inadequate or not enough eyelashes.”

But as John Mack astutely notes in Pharma Marketing News:

“I imagine asking a woman if she has ‘adequate’ or ‘enough’ eyelashes is like asking a man if he has a ‘big’ enough or ‘hard’ enough penis. It is unlikely, therefore, that any woman wouldn’t want to try Latisse at least once.”

How then to get more women to ask more doctors to help sell more of this eyelash-growing drug?  Hire a famous person to pitch your product! Enter professional celebrity-for-hire (Volkswagen-Ford-Coppertone-LaZBoy-Colgate-Tupperware) Brooke Shields, who explains on her Latisse video diary how she also became a paid shill for this Allergan drug:      , Continue reading