Drug marketing spoof reminds us of real issues



In today's newsletter, we included a link to a sly pharmaceutical marketing parody for a fictional drug. The drug, dubbed "Panexa," is said to be good for patients experiencing virtually any condition, including "metabolism, binocular vision, digestion (solid and liquid), circulation, menstruation, cognition, osculation [and] extremes of emotion."

Oh, and if you prescribe this wonder drug, treat it with all due courtesy: "PANEXA should not be used to soak up spills or remove stains. This is disrespectful to PANEXA."

But patients, mind you, need have no such concerns, as it says: "PLEASE READ THIS SUMMARY CAREFULLY, THEN ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT PANEXA AND HOW TO PROVIDE YOU WITH LARGE QUANTITIES."

Now, if you're anything like me, you won't be able to read the rest of this stuff without engaging in a few good belly laughs. But the writers still make some important points:

  • Real direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising certainly has a similar "get the drug at all costs and under any circumstances" undertone, despite the professionally-scripted warnings contained in the copy.
  • Drug companies are happy to assume the role of adviser to patients, which arguably undermines doctor-patient relationships. ("THIS ADVERTISEMENT DOES NOT TAKE THE PLACE OF ADVICE FROM YOUR DOCTOR; RATHER, IT PROVIDES YOU WITH NEW INFORMATION ABOUT NEW DRUGS YOU COULD BE USING," it notes.)
  • Drug companies may not let consumers know about any side effects that pop up once a drug hits the market. (As our parodist puts it: "PANEXA can produce some notable side effects, all of which are probably really, really terrific and nothing that anyone should be concerned about, let alone notify any medical regulatory commission about." Bingo.)

Sometimes, humor offers the best way to hammer home concerns like these. Is anyone on Capitol Hill listening? -Anne

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