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October 1, 2002
7:30 PM   Subscribe

Montel and Leeza want YOU to say NO to DRUGS.

Generic drugs, that is.
posted by donkeyschlong (31 comments total)

 
Oh G*d that's so bogus. You know what drives up the cost of drugs? The ridiculous amount of money that goes to marketing to doctors...the dinners, the plays, the pens, the giant squishy pills that decorate my mother's desk, the "stuffed noses" handed out for Flonase...I'm heartened to see movements among medical students to stop accepting swag and freebies, but until there's a serious commitment to stop making all of that courting so profitable, you'll continue to hear how "expensive" it is to develop drugs and treatments. (Let alone how the US government is responsible for a great deal of the drug research that goes on, and is then taken up by corporations to make money from.)
posted by ltracey at 7:52 PM on October 1, 2002


I would love to know how much they (Leeza/Montel) were paid for this infomercial!
posted by sillygit at 7:52 PM on October 1, 2002


I'd be fine with extending the timeframe the pharmaceutical companies get to keep their drugs from going generic if they were kept in check on patent lawsuits. Every time a pharmco files suit for patent infringement it delays the release of a generic, even if the suit was frivilous. You can't have it both ways. Hatch-Waxman is really bad legislation.
posted by machaus at 7:54 PM on October 1, 2002


Actors are accustomed to speaking the words of other people. Why should I believe that these people are experts all of a sudden?

Oh, my mistake, they're talk show hosts.
posted by trioperative at 7:55 PM on October 1, 2002


It seems they don't have much of a choice in cutting their overhead.
But then, how many college students will turn their backs on medical school once they find out they won't be getting free Viagra pens in the future? At least, that's what hooked me.
posted by SimStupid at 7:58 PM on October 1, 2002


Why should I believe that these people are experts all of a sudden?

They probably are experts in dealing with chronic illness at this point, so I wouldn't trivialize their belief in what they are doing, but I think they fail to realize the need to balance good R&D and affordable medicine.
posted by machaus at 8:02 PM on October 1, 2002


---Shuddering---
I take comfort in that no one I know takes these people seriously. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I don't know anyone in Congress...and I don't know what or who they wouldn't take seriously, now that they've to a person accepted Bush as POTUS.

Generic drugs may be the only valid salvation for our social security/medicare system, since the price of prescriptions are going to cripple and outmatch any funds projected for them. If we can't hone in the drug industry, we'll have effectively handed them blank checks to the taxpayer coffers.

And I think the drug companies already have a pretty good system for extending their copyrights past the couple of decades provided now.

The really funny thing about this is that my HMO won't let me buy name-brand drugs, I have to pay extra for them. And your DR needs to specify that you need them specifically.
posted by Busithoth at 8:09 PM on October 1, 2002


They are probably getting paid for their endorsement, Kathleen Turner certainly did.
posted by bonehead at 8:11 PM on October 1, 2002


seems to me that making the pharmaceutical industry less profitable would be a good thing. as it stands now, treatment is so much more profitable than curing.
posted by tolkhan at 8:25 PM on October 1, 2002


Any kind of social drive to cut medical costs in the US always meets this weird panic. "But lower costs will cut into research!" The government subsidizes the hell out of pharmaceuticals. And what kind of research are people worrying about losing? If the medical establishment worked as hard to cure things like AIDS as it does growing hair on bald skulls and giving old men erections we'd be allot closer to the cure.

And what tolkhan said.
posted by elwoodwiles at 8:47 PM on October 1, 2002


Well, the very idea of making a profit at managing people's health care seems kind of sick.

I mean, when I first thought of it, it took me about 30 seconds to figure out that if you just let people die, especially those with diseases that are expensive to treat, you make money.

And every time someone argues around that point, it's always the elephant in the room that makes me wince. Working an angle like forcing companies by law to treat some customers to compensate for this natural business interest is hardly an answer, I think.

The worst point of it is, I think, that if you're counting all the pennies as they come in, marking surpluses as profit and deficits as losses, you're ignoring the odds that people who weren't getting sick one year, but could the next.
posted by Busithoth at 8:48 PM on October 1, 2002


The celebs said they think protecting patent laws is essential to future research.

Thank God we have celebrities to tell us how to look, think, and act! If it wasn't for celebrities, why I wouldn't know who to vote for, what sort of drugs to take or what size breasts to have!

I'm not a pharmacist, but I play one on TV...
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:49 PM on October 1, 2002


If Montel says it it has to be true.
posted by spungfoo at 9:02 PM on October 1, 2002


The celebs said they think protecting patent laws is essential to future research.

Yes, God forbid that drug companies cut back on their marketing budgets, which exceed their R&D budgets.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:31 PM on October 1, 2002


FWIW another reason that the drug companies charge so much for prescriptions here is b/c they are legally not allowed (by the U.S. gov't) to sell medicine above a price-cap in other countries (which IMO is a good thing). Often times these price-caps are set below cost of a drug. Now, if the cost of that drug includes advertising for it, then even less sympathy for Pfizer, et al. But even if generics are going to be introduced sooner, it's just going to mean higher prices for the new drugs that come out. They are going to cover their costs (all of them, R&D and advertising included) no matter what, and are going to operate at a profit whether you like it or not.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:43 PM on October 1, 2002


Well, the very idea of making a profit at managing people's health care seems kind of sick.

How do you feel about profiting off hunger? That's what the grocer does.

How do you feel about profiting off homelessness? That's what the homebuilder does.

How do you feel about profiting off ignorance? That's what the teacher does.

"It is not from benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest." -- Adam Smith

So much posturing, so little thought. Is there hope for this thread?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:19 PM on October 1, 2002


So much posturing, so little thought. Is there hope for this thread?

You're abso-fucking-lutely kidding, right? When grocers and homebuilders start targeting Meals on Wheels and Habitat For Humanity, we'll talk.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:59 PM on October 1, 2002


Unless I'm mistaken, I don't think any of us are paying grocery insurance.
posted by user92371 at 11:02 PM on October 1, 2002


Oh my God, an Adam Smith quote. Anyway, I know a way drug companies can save money:

Stop advertising on the fucking television. It's totally ridiculous to advertise a prescription drug on television. That can only mean that drug companies expect me (not a doctor) to have influence over what drugs my doctor (a doctor) prescribes to me.
posted by sklero at 1:39 AM on October 2, 2002


sklero: yes, it's shocking that an individual might want influence what drugs go into his own body. Can't have that.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 2:09 AM on October 2, 2002


Slithy_Tove - are TV adverts a good way to make an informed decision? Does not having them imply that individuals can't influence what drugs go into their body?
posted by andrew cooke at 2:33 AM on October 2, 2002


Slithy_Tove: That's not the point I'm making. How can I, as someone who is not trained in medicine, make informed decisions about which prescription drugs are best for me? I can't. Unfortunately, I never studied medicine, so I don't feel qualified to diagnose myself and prescribe myself the appropriate medication. And I would hope that if I went to my doctor and said "Hey! I saw this commercial on the TV for claritin! I want some!," he'd have either already decided that I didn't need claritin (or it's generic equivalent, if there is one) or prescribed it to me based on my need for it, not on my recommendation from a TV advertisement.
posted by sklero at 3:14 AM on October 2, 2002


andrew: are advertisements a good way to make an informed decision about anything? Do you also object to furniture and automobile advertisements?

BTW, I can't tell what the heck you're trying to say in your second sentence.

on preview: sklero, how can you, a person probably not trained in architecture, make informed decisions about what house would be best for you? You probably aren't trained in fashion design or textile technology, how can you decide what clothes would be best for you? You probably aren't trained in semiconductor design, how can you decide what cpu would best for you?

The world is full of things that we're not trained in, that nonetheless we make decisions about. It's up to us to make those decisions as best we can, gathering what information we think is appropriate. Advertisements are part of that information space.

How many people are impelled to go to a doctor (maybe for the first time) after seeing a Viagra advertisement? Or one of those ads for cholesterol-lowering drugs?

The concept of the passive patient in the hands of the paternal physician should be discarded. The more information the patient has, the better. I fully realize that advertisements are a very biased source; however, what manufacturers can say is highly regulated by the FDA.

In general, I think for society to suppress information of any type is a bad idea.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:41 AM on October 2, 2002


As someone in the advertising industry (please, hold the applause), I'd just like to give the inside perspective.

Advertising doesn't make the sale; it makes a product familiar to the consumer and hopefully creates a demand. It does not create an informed decision in the consumer (an informed consumer is perhaps the *last* thing an advertising client wants).

Many people simply accept their current state of health, and many doctors don't keep up with the most modern treatments. Somebody has to get that information out there, that there may be another option. It's sad we've left this to drug companies, but at least it's opening up discussions on patient's health.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:02 AM on October 2, 2002


Public Citizen has a bunch of great resources on the topic. Pharmaceuticals are the most profitable industry in the US.

Here's a great report (PDF, 3.8 Megs) about the costs of R&D for drug companies. The big drug companies claim if they lose their protective patents, they won't be able to afford to do R&D on new drugs (they typically spend twice as much on marketing as on R&D). Most of the research done to produce the top 5 selling drugs in 1995 was paid for through public taxes (NIH grants). Here's how it typically works: NIH gives grants to universities to do basic research. Universities discover something big (a new protein, enzyme, etc.). Researchers at said university do the research to produce the drug, forming their own company. Big drug companies march in, buy the researchers' company for a relatively small sum (~30 million?), produce the drug in their huge factories, and reap huge profits.
posted by gramcracker at 8:44 AM on October 2, 2002


FWIW another reason that the drug companies charge so much for prescriptions here is b/c they are legally not allowed (by the U.S. gov't) to sell medicine above a price-cap in other countries

Wait, shouldn't this be the opposite: affordable drugs for US citizens and people in other countries get to fend for themselves? I know this sounds really inhumane, but shouldn't we benefit from US price controls, rather than be penalized?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:54 AM on October 2, 2002


I'm worried that there's too much well-considered wariness toward the pharmaceutical industry on this thread and not enough wide, sweeping, pigheaded derision. So here goes:

1) The "pharmaceutical industry" is a collection of companies that make chemicals, including pesticides, herbicides and other toxins that find their way into the environment and degrade people's health. Sell the cause, then sell the cure - the perfect cynical marketing system.

2) The "pharmaceutical industry" is a major player in the "anti-drug" movement, including but not limited to funding the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Gosh, wonder why the makers of anti-nausea pills for chemotherapy patients don't want people to have access to medicinal marijuana?

3) The collusion between this industry, the FDA and other government agencies is as bad as with other US industries, only here we're talking about things that can cure or kill people. The testing/approval process is corrupted by cronyism and outmoded-but-entrenched practices like obligatory animal testing, resulting in stuff like the needless 15-year ban on saccharine (gave rats cancer, not us) and the hasty approval of thalidomide (nuff said).

Need citations? I'll go get 'em. The point is, this industry's quest for profits over health and safety - including getting celebrity shills - is one of the most despicable elements of modern capitalism.
[/wide sweeping, pigheaded derision]
posted by soyjoy at 9:37 AM on October 2, 2002


Excellent points, soyjoy.

Reminds me of the fact that many HMOs have huge investments in tobacco companies.
posted by gramcracker at 9:51 AM on October 2, 2002


Slithy_Tove - They can keep making commercials ONLY is they start making some freakin sense. I still don't see how Allegra has anything to do with Windsurfing over wheat fields. And the commercial never did state why I would want to take it or what I would take it for.
posted by Nauip at 11:35 AM on October 2, 2002


how can you, a person probably not trained in architecture, make informed decisions about what house would be best for you?

As long is the house isn't condemned, my choice of one house over another isn't likely to kill me or make me ill.

The concept of the passive patient in the hands of the paternal physician should be discarded...

I kind of agree. I don't mean to suggest that people should blindly trust everything their doctors tell them. Just that a TV commercial for a prescription drug is not a real source of information about that drug.
posted by sklero at 11:54 AM on October 2, 2002


Just remember little people. Big company bad! Government researcher good! There. That's a good boy.

Here's your generic treat manufactured in India with somewhat suspect standards. Liver flavored only. Chicken and Beef flavored to be invented at some later date.
posted by paleocon at 6:36 PM on October 2, 2002


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