Beware! 3 Drug Company Propaganda Techniques to Watch Out For

drug company propaganda

What is driving your doctor’s prescription writing decisions?

I’m asking you this because as a doctor and practicing physician for not less than 16 years, I have encountered many physicians who claim to have your best interests in mind – but the truth is, they just need your money and patronage of their medical products.

Is that an eye-opening statement for you? It was for me more than 16 years ago when I was practicing as a conventional medicine doctor in a hospital. Back then, I thought every doctor who took the Hippocratic Oath was supposed to adhere to the principles of our profession, which is to provide serving and healing to all men regardless of race, color, social and economic standing, religious and political beliefs, etc.

But it’s in the doctor’s examination room that the influence starts – what we call the “big pay-off” happens. Who is the funder? Of course, Big Pharma.

Big Propaganda in the Medical Industry

There is one fact that you need to start thinking about now, and that is your attending doctor or hospital could very well be funding – in kind or in fees – by sales reps, lobbyists, bribes and payoffs by Big Pharmaceutical companies – and it has nothing to do with keeping you in good or perfect health.

Think about this! In 2011 alone, the big pharma industry lobbyists spent over US$150 million to keep their interests hot and top-of-mind of government leaders. Since 2004, Big Pharma’s promotional spending averages about US$61,000 per doctor, on average. And in 2010 alone, big pharma companies paid out US$1.03 billion in online advertising to promote their products to U.S. consumers – not yet including their spending on TV, print, and radio advertising.

But Big Pharma does not do this for nothing; they want your dollars or pesos for that – and it comes with a hefty price.

Here are a few propaganda techniques used by drug companies to convince you to buy their products. Remember, Big Pharma spends billions to keep you buying more from them – and to do that, they have to make sure you are always sick. In fact, U.S. spending on prescription drugs jumped from just US$40 billion in 1990 to US$234 billion in 2008.

Socializing with your Senator or Local Official

A very old technique – and one which you shouldn’t be surprised by this time. Socializing with your senator, congressman and other local government officials means treating them to a meal fit for a king or queen in some five-star restaurant, inviting and flying them over to their resort in some tropical island paradise somewhere to be the “guest speaker” or “honored guest” in their conference, or sending them gifts of a new expensive SUV or ambulance for the use of their staff in community-building initiatives. The list is endless.

Of course, the goal is for your local legislator to support their causes which are going to be wiped out if some healthcare legislation bill goes against their product.

You have to applaud big pharma for being so meticulous about their socializing. In 2011 alone, about 274 House of Representative members received an average contribution of US$8,483 to their causes or campaigns from pharma lobbyists. In the Senate, about 68 members of Congress received a donation averaging US$13,934. Now you know why a lot of politicians are quite close to big pharma companies and almost salivating when they receive the regular generous dole-outs.

In 2008, Big Pharma spent about US$600 million lobbying among elected politicians. Was it coincidental that this came about when the passage of the largest healthcare revamp was seen in the nation’s history?

Paying Off Your Physician

Shocking isn’t it – but oh so true!

Chances are your doctor’s choice in prescribing you that particular drug or treatment is largely influenced by that pharmaceutical rep representing Big Pharma. Or, your physician could have been receiving direct payments for endorsing or participating in a drug study.

Speaker fees, referral fees, high-end trips to a tropical island paradise with his/her family – these are just some of the ways that Big Pharma lavish their love on your doctor – but with a hefty price. You did hear or read about another study that says doctors who prescribed more brand name drugs are the ones who get payments from big pharma companies?

As I said, there is no free meal in the medical and pharma industries, unfortunately. In fact, research has indicated that more than US $61,000 has been received by these doctors per year as part of “promotional spending” by Big Pharma, nearly 25% more than what drug companies spent on research and development.

Promotional spending by Big Pharma pays off, judging by the return on investment (ROI) numbers. Average ROI for every US $1 in promotional spending with doctors is US $1.72 in drug prescription revenues for basic medications — but can climb as high as US $10 for every US $1 spent for the most aggressively marketed and promoted drugs.

For the latest statistics on how much physicians actually get in Big Pharma payouts, the independent media research group ProPublica recorded the figure of US $9.15 billion in terms of payments to doctors by Big Pharma from August 2013 to December 2016.

So always ask your doctor why they are prescribing a specific drug if the cost is high – and to recommend you something cheaper if you can’t afford it.

WE ARE IN YOUR LIVING ROOM – Swarming Communications Channels with Drug Messages

The most insipid and sneaky way that Big Pharma has crawled into your mind space is through your TV set, radio or Wi-Fi connection. Popular magazines, TV commercials, and running online ad campaigns – including online games – have made Big Pharma almost ever-present in your mind and psyche.

In fact, Big Pharma spends millions just to come out with a fantastic ad campaign to get you hooked into their product. And because product marketing now has the World Wide Web, you can be sure that almost every major city or town on the planet is reached by their promotional campaigns.

So don’t buy the lies of Big Pharma. Ask when you need to ask and don’t settle for less when your doctor prescribes you a new conventional drug. 

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