Crossing the line, being fed a line, and toeing the line

Health Beat Blog also has an opinion on how far Big Pharma has gone on producing research and how it is used. When do you say innovation needs to be funded differently in the drug business, and when does advertising become propaganda, and the coercion of the government protecting copyrights and patents need amending. It is worth a visit.

There’s something uniquely unsettling about the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is ready, willing, and able to claim that its marketing is actually some perverse form of community service. It’s one thing to claim that a drug works when it doesn’t, but there’s something especially weird about insisting that advertising can—and should—effectively structure patient-physician interactions. This point is all the more perverse because the same organization that’s saying marketers should mold discussions is also claiming that DTC advertising doesn’t do so. There’s a disturbing undercurrent of social conditioning here that is played up or played down depending on what is most convenient for prescription drug companies.

This is all very audacious, even for Big Pharma. The lengths to which these marketers are willing to go to prove that their product is beneficial and desirable are stunning, and this drives home a point that health care reformers need to keep in mind: These are not the people we want involved in medical research. They have a deep interest in choosing spin over science and pursuing “research” in the service of marketing. These are not the priorities of a high quality health care system. The CommonHealth PR logic needs to be kept as far away from the proposed Comparative Effectiveness Institute—and health care in general—as possible.