Take That Drug Ads!

As someone who studied marketing, I can tell you, marketing is predicated on fear. In Marketing 101 they call it need, but let’s face it, they mean fear. For example, Billy wants those new basketball shoes. Why? Because all the other kids have them, and, the commercials say they’ll help improve his game. So if Billy doesn’t get them?

Well, he won’t fit in, his peers will tease him over his knock-off shoes, and his game will suffer. Naturally, Billy thinks he needs those shoes. Again, why? Because he’s afraid of all the bad things that will happen if he doesn’t get them. See how easily it is to market fears as needs.

Human emotion is a powerful thing, especially when that emotion is fear. Scare a person the right way and you can get them to do almost anything. So obviously, I think it is highly unethical to toy with people’s emotions. Of course this doesn’t stop marketers, after all, there’s plenty of money to be made in fear.

Now I’m not asking you to believe me. Do a little reading and you’ll see what I mean. Consider this report by HealthDay News. According to Randy Dotinga, new research claims that televised ads for prescription drugs are riddled with emotional appeals and lack helpful information on the disease itself:
"The ads really use emotion instead of information to promote drugs," said the study's lead author, Dominick Frosch, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. "The question we have to ask ourselves is: (Should buying) prescription drugs be the same as buying soap?"…

… Ninety-five percent of ads made "emotional appeals," and 78 percent implied that use of the medication would result in social approval. Fifty-eight percent of the time, products were depicted as medical breakthroughs…

… Of course, even if patients are wooed by an ad, they can't get prescription drugs on their own. But, Frosch said, it's not enough to rely on doctors to make the right decisions about drugs that patients should take.

Doesn’t that sound like fear-marketing to you? Personally it’s a pet-peeve of mine and crystallizes my gripe with the industry. But I digress. Rather, let’s focus on the influence of pharmaceutical companies on medical care. Dr. Fuhrman addresses it in Eat to Live:
Drug companies and researchers attempt to develop and market medications to stem the obesity epidemic. This approach will always be doomed to fail. The body will always pay a price for consuming medicines, which usually have toxic effects. The “side” effects are not the only toxic effect of medications. Doctors learn in their introductory pharmacology course in medical school that all medications are toxic in varying degrees, whether side effects are experienced or not. Pharmacology professors stress never to forget that. You cannot escape the immutable biological laws of cause and effect through ingesting medicinal substances…

…Both patients and physicians act as though everyone’s medical problems are genetic, or assumed to be the normal consequence of aging. They believe that chronic illness is just what we all must expect. Unfortunately, the medical-pharmaceutical business has encouraged people to believe that health problems are hereditary and that we need to swallow poisons to defeat our genes. This is almost always untrue. We all have genetic weaknesses, but those weaknesses never get a chance to express themselves until we abuse our body with many, many years of mistreatment. Never forget, 99 percent of your genes are programmed to keep you healthy. The problem is that we never let them do their job.
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