Marketing vs R&D

Did you know that Pharmaceutical companies spend 2 – 3 times as much on marketing their drugs than they do on research and development?

What this means is they invent awareness of conditions that can be treated by their drugs.

The ballooning demand for anti-depressants is a phenomenon.

In barely a decade depression has gone from a rare disorder to being classed as the second major affliction of humankind. Can a thousand-fold increase be explained other than as deliberate marketing ploy to medicalise unhappiness? A new disease of social phobia has been invented, packaged and sold along with its anti-depressant cure. The repeated claim that drugs correct a faulty ‘chemical balance’ in the brain is a theory that has no scientific base. But millions of prescriptions are issued without any test of brain chemical activity. In the USA ten million children are dosed up with antidepressants. That includes 2 million prescriptions for Seroxat.

Pharmas have cynically created dependence on happy pills. Their fable is that life should by perpetual euphoria from cradle to grave. We have been conditioned to believe that if we feel sadder today than we felt yesterday, we are sick. Stress and depression are swelling epidemics in prosperous Western countries. The impoverished developing world has other things on their minds. But unhappiness, boredom anxiety even grief and despair are the inevitable trials of the human condition. They are to be endured not to be smothered with a drug. Grief suppressed is grief multiplied. Without misery, we would not recognize happiness. Most works of art are the products of anguish. If Beethoven and Michelangelo had been on SSRIs their creative animus would have withered.

This is the Pharmas’ greatest success in disease mongering and medicalising society. Their aim, expressed to Paul Flynn MP in a letter from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is that half of the population of the UK should be on anti-depressants at some time in their lives.

A drugged nation delivers bounteous Pharmas profits.


3 Responses to “Marketing vs R&D”

  1. honestpoet Says:

    While I agree that in a lot of cases anti-depressants may not be called for, I have to disagree with them being characterized as happy pills. I suffer from chronic pain from osteoarthritis & scoliosis, but I don’t medicate my pain because enseds tear up my stomach, and I refuse to take narcotics, which lose their effectiveness and create dependence. Instead I practice yoga and eat well and do my best to deal with things naturally.

    About five months ago, during a very stressful time, I wasn’t getting enough sleep, wasn’t able to practice yoga daily, and I began having very disturbing thoughts. I did my best to ignore them for a couple of months, but when I started comparing the efficacy of available means to kill myself, I decided I’d better fess up. I’m now taking Welbutrin. It works. It stopped those thoughts. It did NOT make me happy. I still feel every negative emotion: frustration, grief, impatience, anger, sadness. But I just don’t think about killing myself or hurting my children. Happiness NEVER comes in a pill. It takes real work.

    I agree with you that the drug companies tend to push the bottom line. But to say that no one needs antidepressants shows a lack of understanding and a lack of compassion.

  2. admin Says:

    Honestpoet: I’m glad that Welbutrin works for you at the moment, but I have to say if I was going to start over I’d try a natural remedy like St John’s Wort before ANY anti depressant.

    I never meant to show a lack of compassion, the point I was trying to make was about the level of medicalisation that has been generated by Big Pharma to sell their drugs.

    In the case of Wellbutrin, have you wondered how it actually, exactly works? Maybe your doctor (or GSK) could explain this to you and also explain how the same drug (when it’s called Zyban) manages to be prescribed to help people stop smoking… and how it’s also being investigated by GSK to treat obesity, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, restless legs syndrome and as a possible treatment for enhancing sexual functioning in some women. Recently, Wellbutrin XL was approved for use by the FDA as treatment for seasonal affective disorder.

    I admit I’m cynical – but this is because I have had my brain chemistry messed up by too many years of Seroxat. I believed what the drug companies and doctors said about it and never stopped to ask any questions until it was too late.

    What I’m trying to say is just be careful.

  3. honestpoet Says:

    I appreciate your concern. My husband’s knows neurobiology well and actually chose the Welbutrin very carefully himself. You know, just because a drug can treat multiple disorders doesn’t mean it’s a hoax. Sometimes these diverse problems share a similar biological facet. And sometimes they don’t.

    I totally understand your cynicism. The drug companies not only make huge profits, they’re also some of the worst polluters. And they are indeed cynical themselves, suppressing studies that would make doctors less prone to prescribe.

    But they also create drugs that can help. In talking about these things, it’s important, I think, to maintain balance. You don’t want to come off like Tom Cruise telling Brooke Shields that all she really needs is vitamins and exercise for her post-partum depression.

    Now, you want to talk about a specialty that creates its own market, you ought to look at cosmetic surgery…

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