Snowed in on a brittle February day, I spent it watching a drug commercial.
OK, the ad didn’t last the whole day. It just seemed like it.
Indeed, all 60 seconds of it still plays out in my mind. Good job, makers of Dupixent.
Don’t look it up. If you do, if will infect your mind and marketers will have gotten more bang for their – your – buck.
Whatever drug-makers spend comes from you, including well-coiffed explanations about why prices can’t possibly be lower.
Since 2011, one analysis (truecostofhealthcare.org) finds that Big Pharma has spent almost a trillion dollars, $895 billion — on marketing. That’s 60 percent more than the $549 billion spent on research.
I’m going to challenge that marketing estimate, though. The makers of Dupixent clearly spent close to $1 trillion on this one commercial alone.
According to the commercial, it’s for uncontrolled moderate to severe dyshidrotic eczema. If you’ve got that, raise your hand.
No, wait. Don’t. Because if you do, as the commercial shows, your hand looks like it’s been in a pizza oven. Or you might feel like poison ivy is winding around your ankles. Or at the wash basin it feels like red ants are staging Woodstock on your hands.
We see all this in effects fit for an Ingmar Bergman film festival.
If you’ve got this disease, do you need this? No, you need a doctor to tell you have it and to prescribe something.
Of course, it advises to “ask your doctor” if this prescription is right for you.
Not to speak for everyone with uncontrolled moderate to severe dyshidrotic eczema, but that’s not your job.
After hearing about what the drug can do, it’s your job to shake the ants off and make note of all the bad things it might cause, like fever, swollen lymph nodes and a “general ill feeling.”
What’s the remedy when generally ill from watching these commercials?
Only two countries on the globe, New Zealand and ours, allow this. All others prohibit direct marketing of drugs to patients. Makes sense, as these drugs require a doctor’s prescription. It’s not like we can get a dose at the Dairy Queen.
Once again, we hear many explanations about why prescription drugs are so expensive. R&D. Testing. Patent protection. All valid. Marketing? Explain its purpose. It has none except to drive consumer demand for something a consumer can’t easily buy.
This kind of marketing should be banned. If not, at least the pharmaceutical industry should be flogged and exposed for the ridiculous amounts spent on it.
If not banned, the FDA should remove the absurd requirement that any and all drug advertisement list every benefit and potential adverse side effect. If you want to know these, as the commercial says, “Ask your doctor.”
The only beneficiaries of this kind of information are the TV stations that sell longer ads. And they can be assured that ads from ambulance-chasing attorneys will fill the void.
Washington has never been so divided. However, both parties have been talking about lowering drug prices.
The Trump administration proposes to cease rebates that substitute for actual discounts — a good idea that just tinkers around the edges of a monstrosity.
Democrats want to do much more, such as enabling the export of drugs from other countries. We’re told that’s a bad idea because of safety issues. That sounds like the claim from the ban-abortion crowd that its chief concern is women’s health.
The FDA can approve medicines imported from afar just as easily as it can approve those made here. What a ridiculous dodge. Seriously, we get avocados from Mexico. We don’t keel over in the guacamole.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has said that the government should be making generic variations of drugs that keep people alive, like insulin and EpiPens. Some say that’s a matter of free enterprise and consumer choice. The people using these products have no choice.
Drug companies have a choice — to minimize unnecessary costs – and ridiculous TV commercials should be at the top of the list.
Go ahead. Ask your doctor.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.