Big Pharma - The New Big Tobacco
Washington, DC Sept. 28th, 2007 ---- The politicians in Washington, DC like someone to hate, a reflection of the American public's desire to have a "Bad Guy" that needs to be destroyed at all costs. That is inbred from childhood, with "Bad Guys" in children's stories, through westerns and other movies, to games and computer games.
Nobody here inside the Beltway thought that the ultra powerful "Big Tobacco" with their multi million dollar lobbyists would ever be taken down from their untouchable position of arrogance. They owned Congress, then they alienated the electorate and then they crashed and burned! The politicians and the electorate now are looking for another target, and "Big Pharma" fits the bill perfectly.
The real culprit is the top heavy HMO's, insurance companies, rampant litigation and yes, the pharmaceutical companies bear a lot of the blame in the past for their excesses in entertaining and bribing prescription writers, and their families. But the convenient target is the pharmaceutical industry, which continues to shoot itself in both feet with some really stupid, and irritating marketing and advertising campaigns. Who hasn't become absolutely disgusted with one Erectile Dysfunction commercial after another as they are eating Dinner, or watching the Evening News.
The problem for Big Pharma is that the key decision makers started off as Drug Reps, learnt the scams, then were promoted up the ladder taking their bad habits with them. Big Pharma media management is inbred with failure, and distance from the changing requirements of the buying, and voting public. Their mind set is to maximize sales at any cost, ethical or unethical.
Some companies go to great lengths to stay within the voluntary guidelines of their trade association PhRMA. Others don't give a damn and bribe doctors to prescribe expensive products patients don't need, and in many cases can't afford. The media is smelling blood and if they can gauge the killing mood of the public, they have a scoop, and of course a hot topic will sell more newspapers, magazines and TV advertising. In 2008 the vast majority of that advertising will be from political candidates, also testing the mood of the voters, and plastering the airwaves with their messages. To ensure a less than level playing field the politicians have learned from their battles with Alcohol and Tobacco giants, you declare a Moratorium on their advertising so the only message heard is from the politicians. Nobody said Washington wasn't dirty politics.
The line from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar sums up the frustration of the pharmaceutical companies "The evil men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones" . All the goodwill from the money and effort pumped into research and development can be wiped out in the eyes of the public, investors and industry analysts from a string of media stories on excesses and ill conceived marketing.
The mainstream media are getting ready for a feeding frenzy, and Big Pharma doesn't seem to be aware that they are the next Big Tobacco. Let's hope we don't throw the baby away with the bath water!