Big Pharma


Big Pharma. What does that bring to mind? If you’re like me it makes your head begin to explode just thinking about it. Counter productive, no? Well, actually, it’s very productive for them.


Expensive healthcare


I remember a doctor I used to go to many years ago who drove me crazy with every visit. Why? I always try to get the earliest appointment so there’s not a lot of time in the waiting room. With this doctor, the first appointment was usually with a pharmaceutical rep.

So I would sit in the waiting room, fuming, while she was filling her mini drug store. There was never a time I didn’t leave with a new ‘sample’ drug for some reason or another, probably for high blood pressure. The pharma rep left knowing his bosses would be happy.

–(The transparency issue has improved somewhat, thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s Open Payment database that was released last year and requires pharmaceutical companies to disclose any payments and gifts given to doctors or hospitals per emed cert.)

Most of my working life I was in sales. Radio sales, newspaper sales, retail sales, or promoting and selling my own businesses. I rarely had samples to leave anyone like pharma reps do, although sometimes there were concert tickets when I sold radio. I’m not blaming the reps, believe me. It’s a tough job and their salaries aren’t as great as they should be considering the money these companies make.

Where does research and development spending go? According to The Motley Fool, there are over 7,000 drugs in development worldwide; around 70% are potential 1st in class meds; the average cost for developing new drugs is 2.6 billion dollars and 5.2 billion is spent on advertising.

It occurred to me while watching tv the other night, drug company ads are a lot like drumpf’s administration. Smoke and mirrors. He’s creating a distraction with his tweets while bombing Syria without any discussion with Congress. Or, ranting about Obama wire-tapping him to detract from his love affair with Putin.

The typical tv ad for, oh let’s say…Viagra, since it airs a million times a day, has a couple canoodling as they check into a ritzy hotel while the voice-over explains how the side effects could ruin everything and leave you searching for a doctor in a strange town while trying to hide your boner.

(–On a side note, the number of sexual dysfunction drugs for men outnumber those for women TWENTY-FOUR TO ZERO! We can’t even get equality in the bedroom.)

By the way, the United States and New Zealand are the only countries who air pharmaceutical advertising. Imagine how much more could be done if all that advertising money went into R&D!

Where was I…

Oh, It’s not just about sexually biased drug advertising. Every pharmaceutical ad on TV is designed and directed like a movie or television show. Beautiful scenery and loving families, perhaps on vacation or just having a backyard barbecue, while the voice-over explains all the potential side effects that may kill you.

The older we get the more drugs we need. I personally take 3 daily. I’m sure there will be more in my future. It’s part of growing older, I suppose, and if it keeps me mentally stable and physically active I’ll gratefully continue taking them. But, not everyone can afford the medications they need, even with generics.

Medical insurance is critical to good care. Not everyone can afford insurance either. Between the abhorrent ‘re-creation’ of the ACA that Congress threw together, (that, thankfully failed), and our clueless golfer in chief, we should all be concerned.

The people who voted for this administration may be the most vulnerable to what it has become. A big bank, big pharma country club that could care less about them.

How do you feel about this?






  1. Lee Sequeira

    This quote sums up my feelings 100%:

    “Big Pharma needs sick people to prosper. Patients, not healthy people, are their customers. If everybody was cured of a particular illness or disease, pharmaceutical companies would lose 100% of their profits on the products they sell for that ailment. What all this means is because modern medicine is so heavily intertwined with the financial profits culture, it’s a sickness industry more than it is a health industry.”

    ― James Morcan, The Orphan Conspiracies: 29 Conspiracy Theories from The Orphan Trilogy

    • Barbara

      Spot on, Lee! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Keepthefaith

    I worked for an allergist years ago before the ACA required disclosure and everyday we had reps in our office offering free samples, invitations for us to go to lunch and trips offered to the doctor. This doctor never took them up on the trips but did allow us (his staff) to go to lunch with the reps. The free samples were able to help those who needed them to get some relief from their symptoms.
    I hate the commercials for drugs and every time one comes on, I click off the station. It’s a tedious effort to not contribute to the nonsense of these commercials. The amount of money spent on advertising is ridiculous.

    • Barbara

      I think of the diseases we could cure with the money wasted on advertising. It’s sick. pun intended! Thanks for contributing here!

  3. shelley

    I agree with you completely! I hate the drug advertising and frankly, I’d be nervous about any doctor that made a decision for my health needs based on something I reported seeing on TV about why I should take (fill-in-the-blank). All that money is wasted and in my opinion, could be saved to make drugs more affordable. And the anger I feel at our congress for not doing more to protect the American consumer – I can’t even begin to describe here! In my opinion, big pharmacy is a major part of the reason why medical expenses are exorbitant and are contributing to a poorer America.

    • Barbara

      Exactly, Shelley. It is the root of all the high costs of being ill. The ratio is so out of whack I can’t stand it. I feel for those who simply cannot afford to get good medicine when they need it.

  4. Pat

    I live in Europe where thankfully drug companies are not allowed to advertise on TV, but Big Pharma still wields the control over here too. It is a sad situation when Big Pharma keeps getting richer while health care grows more inaccessible due to high costs.

    • Barbara

      I’m sorry to hear that, Pat. I don’t understand the complete disconnect. Greed is a horrible vice!

  5. michelle combs

    I find this so distressful!

    • Barbara

      I believe most of us do, Michelle.

  6. Hope

    We were amazed the other night to realize that EVERY ad during the evening news was a pharma ad. (Yes, we are dinosaurs and were watching news on TV. ha!) But seriously, they all paint this bucolic picture of what the drug can do (revive your sex life, cure your cancer, help you breathe with COPD, etc.). We all know it’s smoke and mirrors, but the money being spent must be sucking someone in or why would they keep doing it?

    One of the most disturbing aspects to me is the consumer/patient “asking their doctor about X” — like the doctor needs marketing input. Honestly, it’s just so awful.

    And while I’m ranting, did you see those a**hats in Congress have exempted themselves from Trumpcare if they are able to pass a new bill? GRRRR!

    • Barbara

      The money. Follow the money. IF they would stop the advertising, like every other country except New Zealand, there would be more breakthroughs and we would all be better off. I know TV and radio and print would take a big hit but, there are plenty of other ways to generate ad money.
      I wasn’t surprised they exempted themselves from the mess they’re trying to throw on us!

  7. Elaine Ambrose

    Excellent article, Barbara. After my 85-year-old mother fell and broke her hip, OxyContin was one of the medications prescribed to her. I filled her prescriptions and then read about each one. I was horrified about the pain killer so I flushed them down the toilet. (Darn! I could have sold them…) But, I know the potency of those pills would have confused and disoriented her. Next, you could write about the tax-exempt charities that bring in millions of dollars for “medical research” and apply most of the money to “administration.”

    • Barbara

      Good idea. Thanks!

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