In class this week we spoke about direct to consumer pharmaceutical commercials. While this poses its own risks, I’d argue there’s an even more dangerous way these big pharma companies are advertising. With 70% of americans taking at least 1 prescription and 50% taking at least 2, this is a problem with a vast impact on the american people. It not only affects a large number of people but it is a truly massive market with 329.2 billion spent on prescriptions in 2013 and rising every year. Drug companies spend nearly $4B marketing direct to consumers, we discussed this in class, by that’s a small percentage of their advertising budget compared to the $24B they spend advertising to doctors.Thats a lot of money, so much money in fact that 9 out of the top 10 drug companies in the world spend more money on advertising than they do on research and development. Obviously these aren’t tv commercials and billboards, these companies advertise their products through pharmaceutical representatives. These reps often come bearing gifts of free lunch, sometimes for the entire office, and sometimes even every day. The most dangerous part of that is the lack of transparency in a market that is meant to be for the consumer. Often times the only way to see exactly what these companies are spending their money on, and even WHO they’re spending their money on is in the aftermath of a lawsuit. There is very little public information from pharma companies on this front. on the flip side, drug companies buy information from pharmacies to see exactly which doctors are prescribing their drugs. Now, you don’t have to be an anthropologist to understand that if someone is bringing you gifts everyday and can see if you’re helping them out in return, you are more likely to help them out than not. Doctors making medical decisions based on anything but their best educated judgement can be very dangerous for a consumer that doesn’t know about this little known world of doctor manipulation, someone who trusts their doctor, I would say that’s most people. An example of just how dangerous this can be ill bring your attention to a lawsuit involving astrazeneca’s drug seroquel. This was a drug designed to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, the drug was marketed to help with everything from sleeplessness to depressionto the ever popular ADHD. Astrazeneca ended up paying out half a billion dollars to settle the lawsuit surrounding this drug for going ‘off label.’ In fact, this isn’t all that uncommon, I made a separate list of links that are exclusively drug companies settling even more than this in guilty pleads of illegally marketing off label for a drug. The silver lining is that with the affordable care act, there has been a dim light shone into the otherwise completely dark and isolated world of drug company advertisement spending on doctors. It’s a federal website that anyone can search and see if a doctor is getting paid by drug companies, and, most importantly, why. The link to this site is openpaymentsdata.cms.gov.