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Big Pharma's newest pals

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Unread 12.14.09, 08:26 AM
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Big Pharma's newest pals

Big Pharma's newest pals

Google, Yahoo and Big Pharma have joined forces, and you know nothing good could come from that.

They're working the feds right now, as you read this pressuring the government to relax the rules for drug advertising so that online ads don't have to follow the same rules as the ones you see on TV, hear on the radio and read in newspapers.

Pay attention... because if you don't, one of these days you'll wake up to find a new world on the Internet one where Big Pharma makes it harder than ever for you to figure out the truth about their meds.

Right now, drug ads have to follow a simple rule wherever they are: If you're going to mention a benefit, you also have to mention the side effects.

This isn't a very strict rule and it certainly hasn't hurt drug marketing. The industry spent more than $4 billion last year on ads aimed at patients, so it's safe to say they've figured out how to make it work.

Yet somehow, these jokers want us to believe that the Internet where commercials don't have to be told in 30 seconds or fit into a little box on a newspaper page needs different rules.

In reality, they're practically drooling over the idea of selling you meds without ever having to mention the side effects.

Google and Yahoo would love for drug ads to fit into those lucrative little "sponsored link" boxes you see every time you run a search... but those are limited to just 25 words. Big Pharma also wants to sell you meds on Twitter where messages are limited to 140 characters.

Not a lot of room for side effects there.

One of their proposals is a tiny FDA logo that would appear on Internet drug ads. Click it, and you'll get taken to an FDA page on the drug's side effects.

And how many people will bother to do that? How many will even notice it? And why are we shifting the burden back to us, the consumers?

The point of these regulations isn't to make life easier for Big Pharma or its ad agencies. It's not to help the people who sell ads, either.

The point is to give consumers some minimal level of protection. Since we rarely even get that from the FDA, we need to fight like mad to cling to those few rules that do actually help us.

Roll up your sleeves. This is one of those times.

Mad at these ad men,

William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.
Boren's Laws of the Bureaucracy: 1. When in doubt, mumble. 2. When in trouble, delegate. 3. When in charge, ponder.
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