Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

In witnessed. For example, when Latisse, an

In 2015,
nine out of the top ten pharmaceutical companies’ marketing budgets outweigh
their research and development (Swanson,
2015).
With the advent of the 21st Century, Direct to Consumer
Pharmaceutical Advertising (DTCPA) has encompassed a key role in the marketing
strategies of modern pharmaceutical companies, although only legal in the United
States and New Zealand (Ventola, 2011). But, as the above
statistic suggests, actions and tactics of such multinational corporations have
given rise to various controversies and issues of outright deception that has
questioned their roles and duties towards society. This essay will analyse this
glaring lack of responsibility from the perspectives of the primary stakeholders
affected and involved, more specifically, the government, consumers and
physicians.

               Governmental role is one of the
major sources of contention within status quo. Regulations have been imposed by
the Food and Drug Administration (USA) and Medsafe (New Zealand) since 1906 (FDA, 2017) and 1981 (Emergo, 2018) respectively. Successful
efforts in dealing with issues of mischaracterised efficacy and lack of risk
information has been witnessed. For example, when Latisse, an eyelash
thickening drug, was put forth to the market by Allergan in 2009, there was scarce
detail available of the products side awful side effects which was inclusive of
blinding bacterial contamination. The FDA immediately leapt into action by issuing
warning letters to “omit and minimise” its effects (Ruiz, 2010).
However, it is a concern whether or not governing authorities have the necessary
determination to follow through on tackling pharmaceutical drug marketing holistically
as an issue of civil health. Drawing a case from the 1970s, the Association of
the British Pharmaceutical Industry protested that the meticulous regulations
imposed upon companies forced drug testing to be outsourced outside of the UK,
which had disadvantageous impacts on its employment statistics. Subsequently in
1981, legislative policies were scaled down to accommodate and embrace the
industry’s perception of the matter by lessening the pressure on research expenditure
(Abraham, 2002). Such manipulations by
the private sector to leverage a government into compliance results in great
losses of faith in an authority’s capability to serve its people and need to be
recuperated with large scale policy changes such as “comprehensive
public rights of access to regulatory information and timely public
accountability of regulatory decision making” (Abraham, 2008).

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               Coming to the consumers
themselves, they can be said to play the most vital role in the marketing strategies
of the pharmaceutical industry. An annual thirteen to twenty percent growth
rate has been seen in DTCPA since 1997 and research has presented interesting yet
alarming evidence on these consumers. A survey by Mullner (2003) tells us that
66 percent of consumers revealed their interest towards drug advertisements. However,
63 percent were not aware of government approval being necessary for such
promotional campaigns and 13 percent had been lead to believe that only safe
drugs can be advertised. These statistics allow us to conclude that although
consumers may become more and more increasingly aware of prominent brands and
prescription drugs as a whole, their knowledge of the laws and regulations
under which they are promoted is greatly lacking, let alone their awareness of the
various drugs’ benefits, risks, costs or side effects. It could derive from
their ignorance of the availability of other channels to double-check and
confirm the information presented to them through advertising operations. By bringing
into light the multitudinous array of facts oblivious to consumers in status
quo, we will be able to see a progressive movement away from an obtuse,
exploited society and towards a more cognizant community.

               Directing of pharmaceutical advertising
towards physicians became prevalent when prescriptions became necessary for
drug access, which became apparent with over 90 percent of companies’ marketing
expenditure targeting health professionals “a complete reversal of the pattern thirty
years earlier” (Hilts, 2003) and doctors’ roles in
drug promotion varied yet amplified over the decades. Arriving at status quo,
its implications have been greatly debated back and forth. 73 percent of health
specialists advocated for patients indulging in more studious inquiries while
53 percent admitted better deliberation being possible due to DTCPA (Aikin KJ, 2004). Such testimonials
support not only the predominance of enhanced dialogue and empowered patients
but also indicate higher consumer tendency to contact physicians and strengthen
already prevalent relationships, with renewed conformity. On the flipside, when
the desired drugs were not received, almost half of the consumers felt
dismayed, 25 percent admitted to attempting to change the doctor’s mind or get
the prescription elsewhere and 15 percent further conceded to contemplating
shifting physicians, as proven in a study by Frosch DL (2010). This evidence serves
to prove that pharmaceutical drug promotion goes beyond mischaracterised drug efficacy
and lack of risk information – its supports argumentation that DTCPA advocates
for the over usage of drugs and improper prescriptions. While consumers are
driven to the point of “medicalising” of innate appearances (Connors, 2010) due to DTCPA influence, the pressing
concern of physician’s roles being questioned has been at the forefront of issues
that health professionals have had to face with the advent of prescription drug
promotion within media.

               In conclusion, we can understand
that the ramifications presented by unaccountable and irresponsible drug
promotion through media has drastically altered pharmaceutical industry
paradigms as violations of ethics and moralistic principles have never been concrete
grounds for punitive measures against such firms. Although governments have
gone on record with their progress against such deceptions, the reach of the industry’s’
influence continues to blind authorities from their original goal of societal
protection through laws and regulations and control such legislature as deemed
fit. Consequently, this has led to massively twisted consumer perceptions of reality
of such unreliable advertising mechanisms and further resulted in these same
consumers questioning the trust and validity of health professionals within the
industry, factors that are necessary for their sustenance within this industry.
In light of these compelling positive effects and even more so threatening backlash,
all eyes turn upon governments to be able to curb this “controversial, but
powerful medium” (Ventola, 2011) for the betterment
of the society it’s sworn to protect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

The Washington Post. (2015) Big Pharmaceutical Companies are Spending
Far More on Marketing than Research. Online Available from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/02/11/big-pharmaceutical-companies-are-spending-far-more-on-marketing-than-research/?utm_term=.c8b3133a037f Accessed on 10th January 2018

Donohue,
J. (2006). A History of Drug Advertising: The Evolving Roles of Consumers and
Consumer Protection. The Milbank Quarterly Online PubMed Central 84(4).p.659–699.
Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2690298/
Accessed on 10th January 2018

Ventola, C. L. (2011). Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising:
Therapeutic or Toxic? Pharmacy and Therapeutics Online October 36(10).p.669–684.
Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3278148/
Accessed on 10th January 2018

Connors, AL
(2010) Big Bad Pharma: An Ethical Analysis of Physician-Directed and
Consumer-Directed Marketing Tactics. Albany Law Review. Online vol.
73, no. 243, p.276 Available from: http://www.albanylawreview.org/Articles/Vol73_1/73.1.0007%20CONNORS.pdf
Accessed 10th January 2018

Emergo. (2018) Medsafe
– New Zealand Medicine and Medical Devices Safety Authority. Online Available
from: https://www.emergogroup.com/resources/new-zealand/medsafe
Accessed on 10th January 2018

Abraham, J. (2002),
The pharmaceutical industry as a political player, The Lancet, vol. 360, no. 9344,
pp. 1498-502. Accessed on 9th January 2018

Abraham, J. (2008), Sociology of
pharmaceuticals development and regulation: a realist empirical research
programme, Sociology of Health & Illness,
vol. 30, no. 6, pp. 869-885 Accessed on 10th January 2018

Mullner, R (ed.) (2005),
Pharmaceutical Marketing, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bradford.
Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. Accessed 9th January 2018.

Hilts
PJ. (2003) Protecting America’s Health: The FDA, Business, and One
Hundred Years of Regulation.
1st Ed. New York: Knopf. Accessed on 9th January 2018

Aikin KJ, Swasy
JL, Braman AC (2004) Patient and Physician
Attitudes and Behaviors Associated With DTC Promotion of Prescription
Drugs—Summary of FDA Survey Research Results. Washington,
D.C: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Food and Drug
Administration. Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Accessed on 9th January 2018

Frosch
DL, Grande D, Tarn DM, Kravitz RL (2010) A decade of controversy: Balancing
policy with evidence in the regulation of prescription drug advertising. (Online) Am J Public Health. PubMed Central
100(1).p.24–32. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791253/
Accessed on 10th January 2018

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