The Role of Marketing: Part 1

Big Pharma’s Advertising

Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars every year to advertise their products in the United States. In 2014, Big Pharma reportedly paid a total of $6.49 billion on marketing, considerably larger than research and development. Their target audiences include consumers and physicians.

Consumer Oriented Advertising

Big Pharma engages in direct-to-consumer advertising. In fact, the U.S. and New Zealand are the only countries that allow pharmaceutical companies to directly advertise to customers (DrugWatch). The FDA oversees the ads, which typically come in three forms: product claim, reminder ads and help seeking ads.   When companies do not comply with the advertising standards of the FDA, they are hit with billion dollar fines (DrugWatch).

The advertisements often times include a celebrity, actors or a cartoon of some sort (DrugWatch). Opponents of direct-to-consumer ads critique its misleading nature. Consumers may be tempted to believe that a celebrity endorser actually takes the drug or that the actors are legitimate doctors (DrugWatch).

Click the link to watch an ABILIFY® ad

Physician Oriented Advertising  

Big Pharma invests in marketing directly to health care providers to encourage them to prescribe their drugs. They even target residents still attending medical school (DrugWatch). Marketing activities directed at physicians include sale pitches, promotional activities, meals and gifts (DrugWatch). The industry also administers free medication samples to physicians, which has been shown to increase prescriptions of the endorsed medication (Pew Results).

Big Pharma also invades medical conventions by sending doctors unwarranted promotional items, concert tickets or invitations to free dinners (DrugWatch). Physicians can also get paid for speaking and writing on behalf of the benefits of a certain drug. Furthermore, Big Pharma tends to direct resources to doctors with a known history of extensive prescribing (DrugWatch).  According to Open Payments data, approximately 607,000 physicians in the country have a payment record affiliated with Big Pharma.

Why Pharmaceuticals Companies Must Advertise

The direct-to-consumer advertising tactic has proven to be extremely profitable; for every dollar spent by Big Pharma, they averaged about $4.20 in return (Abrams). Physicians are also more likely to prescribe a specific brand of a drug when they have a fiscal history with its company (DrugWatch). Finally, it is imperative for companies to establish relationships with health professionals because there is little product differentiation within the market.

Work Cited

Abrams, Micheal. “Big Pharma’s Direct to Consumer Advertsing Corrupts America’s Heath Culture.” IVN. 3 May 2012. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

“Basics of Drug Ads.” Prescription Drug Advertising. FDA, 19 Jun. 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

“Persuading the Prescribers: Pharmaceutical Industry Marketing and its Influence on Physicians and Patients.” Prescription Project. Pew Results, 11 Nov. 2013. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

“Pharmaceutical Marketing.” Big Pharma. Drugwatch, 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

“Basics of Drug Ads.” Prescription Drug Advertising. FDA, 19 Jun. 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.


Andy. “ABILIFY (aripiprazole) Anti-Depressant Add-on Treatment- BMS.flv.”Online video clip.  Youtube . Youtube, 27 Feb. 2011. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.

“Basics of Drug Ads.” Prescription Drug Advertising. FDA: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 19 Jun. 2015. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

“The FACTS About Open Payments Data.” 2014 Totals. Open Payment Data. Web. 13 Dec.2015.



America’s New Bully: Let’s Begin

Big Pharma is a billion dollar industry and in this country, money coincides with power. Big Pharma is no stranger to using their capital to gain political and social influence. Specifically, the industry wields its leverage in systems whose exclusive purpose is to serve the public: the government, the doctors’ office and the industry of food-producing animals.

I want to examine how Big Pharma has affected our nation’s public health. Are pharmaceutical companies more concerned with the well being of their customers? Or have they evolved into an entity whose actions are motivated by greed?

The following as an outline of the next seven posts.

The Big Pharma Lobby: Part 1: Depicts the history of lobbying in America and goes on to describe the billions Big Pharma has spent on lobbying. The post also mentions policies that were manipulated by Big Pharma to better coincide with the industry’s objectives.

The Big Pharma Lobby: Part 2: Further elaborates on the impacted policies.  Also explains how these regulations benefit Big Pharma and puts the nation’s public health in jeopardy.

The Role of Marketing: Part 1: Describes the consumer-oriented and physician oriented marketing strategies employed by Big Pharma. The post also talks about why it is essential for pharmaceutical companies to advertise.

The Role of Marketing: Part 2: Discusses how Big Pharma’s marketing method contributes to the country’s pill and diagnosis culture. Outlines the advertising crisis of drugs and also indicates the public health implications that stem from Big Pharma’s corrupt advertising approach.

Livestock and Superbugs: Part 1: Gives an overview of the relationship between Big Pharma, the meat industry and animal scientists. Also discusses the questionable interactions between FDA and Big Pharma.

Livestock and Superbugs: Part 2: Summarizes the health implications corresponding with feeding food-producing animals pharmaceuticals.

Conclusion: I will interpret the findings and dare to answer the questions posed earlier: Are pharmaceutical companies more concerned with the well being of their customers? Or have they evolved into an entity whose actions are motivated by greed?

Let’s get this party started!


America’s New Bully

Try imagining modern day society without the advancement of pharmaceuticals, where bacterial infections could mean death!  Luckily, this sort of situation is now unfathomable because of the existence of pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals facilitate the treatment of a variety of diseases and ailments in humans and animals.  Diseases that were once death sentences are now preventable and treatable.  The pharmaceutical industry researches and develops new drugs thus empowering medical practitioners and patients to chose the medication best suited for the patient’s predicament.

However, along this modern medicine journey, the United States has become the most medicated country on earth. We are suffering a silent epidemic: the over use and abuse of pharmaceuticals which includes both prescription drugs and antibiotics (National Institute on Drug Abuse). In my opinion, the blame lies in the hands of the multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry known as Big Pharma.  For my project I want to expose the grip that Big Pharma has on our country’s public health by investigating its influence in the three following arenas: government, the doctors’ office and the agriculture industry.

First, I am going to examine the industry’s influence on the government.  It’s no secret that corporations spend billions of dollars lobbying in order to gain favorability from lawmakers. However, I was surprised when I learned that the pharmaceutical industry spends the most in influencing members of government (Potter). I want to examine how the industry’s clout has affected the country’s public health through the mechanisms of laws and policies.

Second, I want to investigate the industry’s influence in the doctors’ office meaning physicians and patients. Approximately 70% of America’s population is taking some form of prescription drugs (National Institute on Drug Abuse). I propose that the Big Pharma’s kickbacks to doctors as well as their intrusive advertising contribute to this alarming rate.

Third, about 80% of all purchased antibiotics in the country are not consumed by people but are used for food-producing animals (Bittel). In turn, I want to analyze the relationship between Big Pharma and the agriculture industry, particularly the meat industry.  Public health studies have shown that an increased use of antibiotics in animals has and will continue to lead to drug-resistant bacteria, or superbugs, which are a serious threat to human health.

For this project, I used a variety of sources. I will utilize science-based text to highlight Big Pharma’s implications on public health. I will also make use of the plethora of existing news articles that investigate Big Pharma’s power.

 Work Cited

Bittel, Jason. “FDA’s pitiful plea to Big Pharma: Cut back on antibiotics in meat, please.” Salon, 15  Dec. 2013. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.

Drake, Daniela. “Big Pharma Is America’s New Mafia.” The Daily Beast, 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.

“Popping Pills: Prescription Drug Abuse in America.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, Jan. 2014.  Web. 3 Nov, 2015

Potter, Wendall. “Big Pharma’s stranglehold on Washington.” The Center for Public Integrity. 11 Feb.  2013. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.