The marketing budgets of the drug industry are enormous -- much larger than the research and development costs -- although exact figures are difficult to come by, in part because marketing and administrative expenses are often folded together and in part because some of the research and development budget is for marketing research.
According to its annual report, Pfizer spent 39.2 percent of its revenues on marketing and administration in 1999 (16); Pharmacia & Upjohn is reported to have spent about the same. (12) The industry depicts these huge expenditures as serving an educational function. It contends that doctors and the public learn about new and useful drugs in this way. Unfortunately, many doctors do indeed rely on drug-company representatives and promotional materials to learn about new drugs, and much of the public learns from direct-to-consumer advertising. (17) But to rely on the drug companies for unbiased evaluations of their products makes about as much sense as relying on beer companies to teach us about alcoholism.
"This has brought medical trials to the forefront," he said. "There are loads of people out there willing to participate who will be introduced to medical research one way or the other. That's what's taking place right now."
"It's unheard of, what's happening. But whether it lasts one week or two weeks, or one month or two months, there's no telling," he said. "I guess it depends on whether the volunteers live."
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