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Female Sexual Dysfunction: Pharma’s Next Lifestyle Market

I’m posting this from one of Steve Woodruff’s blog posts that I shared via my Facebook profile, which turned into a full blown debate between me, Dmitriy Kruglyak, and Yvette – one of my FB friends.

Jane Chin
I’m pro-pharma, but I’m NOT happy w/ female sexual dysfunction disease mongering I expect to see from pharmacos! http://ow.ly/4xQH

Dmitriy Kruglyak at 8:18am April 30
Where do you draw the line between “disease mongering” and “disease awareness”?

Jane Chin at 8:21am April 30
When the ‘awareness” generated makes patients who otherwise are not candidates for the drug pressure docs to write the Rx.

Dmitriy Kruglyak at 8:23am April 30
Ah, but who gets to decide “who are the candidates” and what qualifies as “pressure”? Especially if we are talking DTC, rather than Rx. Are there hard and fast rules?

Jane Chin at 8:25am April 30
that’s why I don’t think DTC is responsible for niche diseases. Pressure=if you don’t write it, I’ll go to another doctor who will.

Dmitriy Kruglyak at 8:27am April 30
Hmmm, seems to me “if you don’t write it, I’ll go to another doctor who will” can come from any kind of patient empowerment, not just driven by Rx advertising.

Jane Chin at 8:28am April 30
Yes it can, but true patient empowerment IS NOT “take this pill, fix your problem” when the problem is not always solved by “a” pill.

Dmitriy Kruglyak at 8:47am April 30
Patients just want to do what they want to do. People have, are and will always look for quick fixes. That’s human nature.

Jane Chin at 8:51am April 30
I know this is human nature, and one capitalized by advertising. But where health and human life are concerned, the ethical standards should be higher.

Dmitriy Kruglyak at 8:53am April 30
Seems to me advertising is simply fulfilling demand

Jane Chin at 9:02am April 30
No, advertising is meant to CREATE demand. Even better when advertising increases the market from perception-based v. needs-based demand.

Yvette at 9:03am April 30
Seems to me advertising is fulfilling the monetary power urge of those it serves – that seldom being the public. I find there to be little by way of serious ethical factoring at play in either advertising or the broad range of medical/pharmaceutical relating. My sister at one time in her career was a pharmaceutical rep! The practices troubled me … Could anyone seriously argue that it is other than mostly about the almighty $$$?

Jane Chin at 9:07am April 30
I have no problem with ppl making a ton of $$ when done in a responsible (i.e. true needs-based) manner esp. when health and human lives are involved. Also, it is because I STILL respect the ethical intent, or claims to “want to do best for patients”, of pharma execs that I know they can DO BETTER in this area.

Dmitriy Kruglyak at 9:10am April 30
Nobody is forcing anyone to buy what ads are selling. As far as the types of ads that do create demand for
*products* they are still merely fulfilling demand for solutions to problems, whether real or perceived. I think anti-marketing campaign has gone too far.

Jane Chin at 9:15am April 30
That is the same argument I’ve heard from a pharma executive who wanted to engage in what I saw as illegal off-label promotion. “No one is forcing these doctors to do these ‘studies’. No one is forcing these doctors to write drugs for these off-label uses.”

Of course no one is forcing anyone to do anything. That’s why it’s great to be in the US, where we have free will, and where some of us know how to manipulate free will for their own gain.

I can see how anti-marketing campaigns can go too far. I can also see how the “non-force” argument is over-used in pharma marketing.

Yvette at 9:38am April 30
Perhaps Dmitriy. As a consumer, however, my take is rather anti-marketing overall. I remember when all the pharma commercials began to come on the scene – there was often no mention for what particular ailment the drugs served – curious – so what? – a peculiar sense of some looming need for a drug to fix??? Just an open advert for a pharmaceutical product. Now at least all the ads I see direct you to their target dysfunction.

I am encouraged by your faith in the “ethical intent” of pharma exexs Jane – yet I am still of the opinion that we are subject to advertising overload – to what avail? Our better interests? I think not. Creating demand – I find myself more in agreement with.

Dmitriy Kruglyak at 10:57am April 30
Jane: My argument has nothing to do with off-label promotion, let’s not confuse these issues. Yes, I believe freedoms we (still) have in America are precious and deserve to be celebrated. The info is out there and people can decide.

Yvette: If you do not like marketing, you can ignore it. Why do you want to force your opinion on willing buyers and sellers? If pharmas are such evil profiteers, maybe we should just shut them all down and then die in the next pandemic?

Yvette at 12:31pm April 30
May be that moderation and awareness in all things serves best. Forcing I do not believe I am, offering an opinion, to be sure – as an individual who has made observations and who feels a right to speak of things such as the concerns of profit over welfare. Ignoring serves at times. Yet sometimes, alternate options
serve more useful ends.

Dmitriy Kruglyak at 1:14pm April 30
Moderation and awareness is all I am suggesting! I would not argue that there is some abuse in health
marketing, but as long as there is no deception and illegal / offlabel uses, I do not see reasons to spring up restrictions. Pharmas making profit? I am glad they are not asking for bailouts! I grew up in USSR and with their socialism and “no profit motive” (e.g. no incentive to be productive), they had constant shortages of even most basic medications.

Jane Chin at 1:19pm April 30
We absolutely should be making profits (i.e. any commercial/biz entity hanging a sign as a business entity has the obligation to do so). I’m also not suggesting restrictions, that would be antithetical to what I value more (freedom of speech). However, commercial speech is regulated speech where product claims and representation is concerned.

I think what we’ve done here in this “short” dialog is what I want to see more of. Therefore, I’m a big supporter of both pharma detailing and counter-detailing.

Dmitriy Kruglyak at 1:30pm April 30
Yup and thanks to you Jane for kicking it off!

I find it unfortunate that a lot of public discourse about pharma marketing is highly adversarial. There is too much presumption of guilt and assumptions of the worst motives. With this new “regulate everything” attitude in DC in my opinion this is outright dangerous, which is why I believe in … Read Morespeaking up about this and testing both pro and con arguments.

A good example is recent FDA’s action on search marketing, which in my view was harmful. In case you care, here is the blog I wrote about it: http://bit.ly/8y4SZ

Yvette at 1:32pm April 30
“Commercial speech is regulated speech …” precisely. Ethical profit and responsible business practices, a
useful end. Everyone benefits.

Jane Chin at 1:37pm April 30
You’re welcome Dmitriy.

Yvette, I have ulterior motives for wanting the selection pressure to come from “ethical profit-making”. Because this will force innovation. i.e. you can’t count on manipulating to make more $ than the true needs of the disease state, which means you’d better start innovating on the science or on business processes/practices and improve profit margins there.

Dmitriy Kruglyak at 2:07pm April 30
IMHO, science and marketing should not be adversarial either. Even the most innovative breakthrough has to be marketed to succeed. Ironically, many of the marketing restrictions that are being proposed can harm such innovations.

Updated: June 30, 2013 — 8:05 am

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