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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 11879

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: report

Bala-Miller P, Macmullan J, Upchurch L
Drugs, doctors and dinners: How drug companies influence health in the developing world
London: Consumers International 2007 Oct 31


Consumers trust doctors to act in the best interests of their patients. However, most consumers are largely unaware of the influence of the pharmaceutical industry’s marketing on the very health professionals they rely on. Between 1995 and 2005, the percentage of total spending on sales and marketing was by far the biggest corporate expense for the pharmaceutical industry. The excesses of drug marketing are well recognised by industry insiders. A survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers showed 94% of industry stakeholders said that pharmaceutical companies spent
too much money on advertising.2

In this report, Consumers International seeks to highlight the marketing practices3 in emerging and developing economy markets4 by leaders in the pharmaceutical industry. Since direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) is banned in most countries health professionals are the primary targets for the sales tactics of the drug companies. Consequently, the scope of our report focuses on doctor-directed promotion…


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As an advertising man, I can assure you that advertising which does not work does not continue to run. If experience did not show beyond doubt that the great majority of doctors are splendidly responsive to current [prescription drug] advertising, new techniques would be devised in short order. And if, indeed, candor, accuracy, scientific completeness, and a permanent ban on cartoons came to be essential for the successful promotion of [prescription] drugs, advertising would have no choice but to comply.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963