A Legal Culture of Drug Pushing-"Bitter Pill" Awards Announced Yesterday
This year Bitter Pill Awards were presented in four categories to drug companies engaging in over-zealous and questionable marketing practices. The drug industry’s national lobbying group, PhRMA, received two awards, and the remaining three awards were shared among makers of five of the nation’s most well-known drugs: Lunesta, Ambien/AmbienCR, Lipitor, Crestor and Strattera.
PAL uses highly creative humor as an effective weapon. For example awards included "The While You Were Sleeping Award" (the dangerous boom in insomnia meds sales), "The Got Cholesterol Award"(excessive and dangerous statin meds use),"The Driven to Distraction Award" (for overdiagnosing ADD and hawking ADD drugs to dangerous excess), and two awards to the Drug Industry's own extremely wealthy and powerful lobbying group= PhRMA-"The Fox Guarding the Henhouse Award" (for pushing voluntary rather than mandatory drug advertising standards), and "The Truth is Stranger Than Fiction Award" (for scaring Americans about the trumped up dangers of Canadian Drugs)
I was surprised to learn during the conference call that, of all people, Sen Dr. Bill ("how to otherwise destroy US Health Care") Frist actually supports much stronger legislation to reign in overzealous unscrupulous drug company marketing. Live and learn about strange bedfellows?
Also one pet peeve (err- rage?) of mine not addressed by this oustanding PAL effort -they can't/shouldn't do everything- is the depiction of smiley people on TV ads literally pushing over-the-counter (OTC) drugs onto neighbors, friends, co-workers and family members by saying "here try this" for your pain, etc. Hey, as PAL says, drugs ain't exactly recommending a good restaurant or digital cameras.
Anyway this outstanding organization, now only in its second year of presenting awards, is to be resoundingly commended for using humorous and creative methodologies as well as serious legal and educational actions to tackle a truly pernicious practice almost unique to American Culture. Most other countries have banned direct to consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription medications. But the good Ole US of A can't seem to break its sick addiction to "the free market solves all human problems" approach to almost everything.
About the Prescription Access Litigation Project (PAL)
Prescription Access Litigation Project (PAL) (www.prescriptionaccess.org) is a project of Boston-based Community Catalyst. PAL is a nationwide coalition of 118 state, local, and national senior, labor and consumer health advocacy groups in 35 states fighting to make prescription drugs affordable. The organizations in the PAL coalition have a combined membership of over 13 million people. PAL works to end illegal drug industry practices that increase the price of prescription drugs beyond the reach of the American consumer, using class action litigation and public education. Since 2001, PAL members have filed 26 sets of lawsuits targeting such practices.
Note: A complete electronic press kit, containing graphics, is available at www.bitterpillawards.org.
Dr. Rick Lippin (Blake)