Drug Marketing and Consumer Safety

There are two news items of interest this morning that concern how pharmaceutical companies’ marketing efforts are dangerous to consumer safety.
First, the FDA has moved to restrict and more closely regulate the prescribing of certain narcotic drugs including Oxycontin, the powerful and popular painkiller. In announcing the new restrictions, the FDA noted that doctors are sometimes too cavalier in the manner in which they dole out the powerful pain drugs. Interestingly, the governmental agency commented that the real culprit was the manner in which the drug companies themselves market these drugs as cure-alls while downplaying their dangerous side effects and the potentially life-threatening effects of misuse and overuse. For years now, I watched as pharmaceutical companies market their products as if they were candy. Finally, the FDA is moving to do something about this problem.
Secondly, Bayer, the manufacturer of YAZ, a popular birth control drug, will limit the way it markets the product. This comes on the heels of Bayer’s settlement with 27 states over Bayer’s marketing claims that YAZ can treat symptoms such as PMS for which it was never approved. As a result of the settlement, Bayer must implement a $20 million marketing campaign to remedy its misstatements in previous marketing campaigns.
Pharmaceutical companies have tons of money to throw at marketing campaigns. The more aggressive the marketing campaign, the more doctors and consumers will demand the drug. If there are no federal regulations concerning their marketing campaigns, drug companies can continue to put consumer safety at risk.