Drug Commercials on Television


The year is 1999 and in one of the only two 5 star restaurants in Northern California, in the small village of Larkspur in Marin County, California, a banquet was held.

The Lark Creek Inn restaurant couldn’t be a better location for a meeting with Medical Doctors.  Originally a beautiful Victorian home built in 1888, located in a redwood grove with a creek running past the side of the restaurant and valet parking. Extraordinary dining, a beautiful setting, exquisitely decorated and a well stocked bar with the appropriate wine list of Napa’s finest. A legendary owner/chef in the kitchen providing a seductive selection of entrées, sides and deserts.

As guests of Pharmaceutical Company representatives, the Medial Doctors were expressing their concerns for their loss of patients to “alternative medicine” and could anything be done about the problem?

Since 1962 pharmaceutical ads have been regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that they are not false or misleading. The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries where direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs is legal. (As of May 9, 2017.)

In 1997 the FDA relaxed the guidelines regarding direct-to-consumer TV ads from drug companies. Television advertising sales shot from $12 million in 1989 to $1.7 billion in 1998. 2006 saw television advertising spending increase to $4.1 billion for about 70 drugs. 

In 2016 the total sale of pharmaceutical drugs world wide exceeded $1,000,000,000,000.00 (one trillion) dollars for the first time in history.  The same year pharmaceutical drug sales in the United States had hit $450 billion for the year.  The current projections by the industry itself is  $1.2 trillion world wide in 2020.

Why is 45% of all pharmaceutical  drugs sold in the world, sold in the United States? Why is the general health of the population in the United States declining?

About 443,900 deaths from prescription medication were reported to one of the United State’s poison centers, with analgesics/pain-killers being the deadliest, responsible for 11 per cent of all deaths reported. Sedatives and antidepressants were the 5th and 6th major killers respectively. Why is one of the top selling off the shelf pain killers the leading contributor to liver failure in the United States?

Almost anyone that has watched any quantity of television has been exposed to the prevalent advertising of Pharmaceutical drugs. The viewer can testify to at least one common phrase used in almost all of the ads.

“Ask your doctor.”


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