This week’s international Herald Tribune features an article titled, “Selling an Illness Helps Pharmaceutical Giant Peddle Its Pill.” The author speaks of a little-known malady called Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), a condition many of us have become familiar with during the past two years as a result of marketing efforts which included advertising on television.
According to the article, psychiatrists and patient advocates appeared on TV and in print to explain that the condition (SAD) was extremely widespread but was easily treatable. Paxil also markets their drug for a condition called “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” (GAD).
What the author found interesting was that all the attention surrounding this condition was not spurred on by medical developments, rather it was part of a coordinated campaign by a New York public relations agency. According to the article, about 96 percent of the stories delivered the message, “Paxil is the first and only FDA approved medication for the treatment of social anxiety disorder.” Was the ad agency hired by a pharmaceutical giant to push the use of drugs? Of course, but is the condition real?
You are the maker of this drug and you are the only manufacturer who has the drug to treat this so-called disorder, what kind of position does that put you in?
Sell The Illness, Supply The Market
Paxil is not alone. It was not long ago that we began seeing commercials for premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD. The drug in this case was Sarafem, which according to WebMD, is a “repackaged, relabeled version of the antidepressant fluoxetine hydrochloride — better known to millions by the brand name Prozac.”
Ritalin is another example. There are those who question whether ADD/ADHD is a condition created by drug manufacturers in order to sell more product. In fact, the state of California and state of New Jersey filed class action suits against the makers of ritalin and the American Psychiatric Association last year, accusing the two of conspiring to create the disease attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in order to sell more of the drug.
Remember that nearly 20 million prescriptions for ritalin, and other psychotropic stimulants were written last year in the United States – that is a 35 percent increase since 1996. Most of the prescriptions, according to a health care information company, were written for boys under the age of 12.
International Herald Tribune: Selling an Illness Helps Pharmaceutical Giant Peddle Its Pill
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