Further Information

The Cost of Pushing Pills: A New Estimate of Pharmaceutical Promotion Expenditures in the United States | Marc-André Gagnon, Joel Lexchin
Article Published: 2008

Type: Articles and Dissertations
Funding Source: No funding received
Published By: PLoS Medicine, 2008, volume 5, issue 1

Further Information

Every day we hear of a new disease or some new “threat” against our health. The pharmaceutical industry – conceivably the most powerful and influential industry in the world today – relentlessly finances universities and other institutions to produce massive amounts of junk science to maintain a constant state of fear and apprehension about public health. The fear is conveyed to the public through mass-media that are more and more relying on pharmaceutical advertisement to stay alive as their audiences continue to decline.

The mass-production of junk science by institutions that are themselves more and more dependent on Big Pharma to “keep the lights on” are just the first step of a complex and dishonest process of acquiring an ever-growing clientèle: corruption of national and international “public health” authorities is renamed “coöperation” or “joint venture” – and laws that favour heavy advertisement (and the prescription) of drugs to an ever-younger audience are passed every day everywhere in the world.

So, while freedom of speech and information is constantly violated by forbidding the advertisement of tobacco products, sport cars, foods and beverages in the name of “health” largely on the basis of junk science, “public health” authorities allow the virtually unrestricted advertising bombardment of pharmaceutical products to “treat” often controversial or non-existing “diseases” (such as smoking) with products that hook up their consumers, often for the rest of their lives, and frequently with side effects that literally kill the consumer.

Strangely enough, the scientifically undemonstrated causality of lung cancer of a smoker always finds space on the daily chronicles; however, the death of a smoker due to smoking-cessation devices most often is not mentioned — but it is surely counted as a “tobacco-related” disease.  In that way servile mass-media promote antismoking ideology and superstitions, gag the truth — and make their main benefactors very happy.

This recently published paper shows the immense investments of Big Pharma in that marketing that “public health” authorities facilitate so much – an investment that overtakes the cost of research. Companies claim that developing drugs from the research stage to the clinical trial stage before the drug is finally ready to receive approval by a country as safe for use by the general public in their greater cost, but this new research suggests that it is marketing costs, not drug development costs, that consume the majority of the company profits. Pharmaceutical companies are much more profitable than companies in any other industry.

However Big Pharma enjoys protection at the highest levels of government – regardless of that government’s political colours. This study by the United States General Accounting Office, for example, seems to go out of its way to show that pharmaceutical companies do not spend as much after all, and at any rate less than what they spend in research. Absolutely not so, as demonstrated by the study we are linked to.

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