April 8, 2015

Highly Recommended: John Oliver on Big Pharma

Rob Humbracht

John Oliver on Big Pharma

A fascinating piece by John Oliver and company at This Week Tonight shows just how much money big pharmaceutical companies are spending on marketing to doctors. In fact, while pharmaceutical companies are spending $4 billion dollars a year to market to all 300 million Americans, they're spending $24 billion just to market to the roughly 1 million doctors in the United States.

If you break that down, that's:
$13 per American and
$24,000 per American doctor

John Oliver points out that 9 out of 10 big pharma companies spent more on marketing than they did on research and development. As John Oliver quips:

"Like high school boyfriends, they spend more time worrying about getting inside you than about being effective once they're in."

Among the bad behavior documented is:

1. Pressuring doctors - Drug companies purchase data from drug stores to find out how many prescriptions each doctor is writing of a particular drug. They then pressure the doctors to write more of their prescriptions rather than those of the competitor.

2. Going off-label - The majority of pharmaceutical companies have settled lawsuits claiming that they encouraged their drug reps to promote their medications for uses that are not approved by the FDA.

3. Bribing doctors - bringing lunch, taking them out to nice restaurants, paying them to be "thought leaders" in their field (whatever that means).

It's highly recommended viewing.

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