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ASK YOUR DOCTOR is a free-wheeling, ironic and ominous film exploring pharmaceutical marketing and its effect on American society.

Do You Have A Sudden Urge To Gamble?

Well, you are either experiencing a side effect of the prescription drug Requip, or you want to help us make a documentary film!

The Story:

In 1996, the pharmaceutical industry radically changed American healthcare, television and culture.

It was the first appearance of ‘The Claritin Spot,” a Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) advertisement for prescription drug still within its profitable 10-year patent.

People frolicked in the great, allergy-laden outdoors. The screen was filled with images of flowers and implied relief from congestion. It was all set to the catchy Cole Porter tune “Blue Skies.” At the time, no one could’ve predicted the long-term impact of this colorful ad for the prescription allergy drug Claritin.

It was, in fact, a watershed moment in American culture and history.

What followed was a massive explosion in DTC advertising for flood of new medications with a dizzying array of names, an almost comical litany of side effects and a costly bottom-line at the pharmacy counter.

What followed was a “Pharmapillooza” of celebrity endorsements, new and exciting diseases and the catchy marketing mantra of this perfectly legal drug culture - “Ask Your Doctor.”

And the pills. Lots and lots of pills:

  • for longer erections
  • for thicker eyelashes
  • for happier children
  • for calmer dogs

In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration issued relaxed guidelines for DTC marketing for pharmaceuticals.

Over the next decade, industry spending on DTC marketing grew from $791 million in 1999 to $4.8 billion is 2006.

For every $1 spent on DTC pharmaceutical advertising, the pharmaceutical industry realizes $4.20 in increased sales.

This is the prescription for ASK YOUR DOCTOR, a free-wheeling, ironic and, at times, ominous look at the rise of DTC marketing and its effect on American society, culture and healthcare.

The Pitch:

We—Ned "Talking Turkey" Judge & JP "Newsvandal” Sottile—plan on taking a comedic, slightly disturbing and always disruptive look at the story of pharmaceutical marketing and culture of the Great American Pharmapillooza.

If we get the funding, we'll turn around a high quality film with plenty of high dudgeon...in about a year.  

We'll ponder the bizarre, often comical names of new drugs and examine the strange growth in new “diseases” that, perhaps not coincidentally, match a plethora of new, corresponding drugs. The key element is the almighty ten-year patent cycle that every drug-maker must manage to keep its flagship drugs profitable.

The success of The Claritin Spot also set off an explosion of drug marketing, disease branding and “product” creation as the industry and its marketing machines worked against the clock to push as much of their product as possible before the 10 year patent clock runs out.

The Claritin Spot also marked a radical shift in the medical profession, one that flipped the doctor-patient relationship on its head and forced doctors to respond to the pharmaceutical demands of their patients. Ultimately, it turned patients into consumers and doctors into dealers.

At the time, FDA Director David Kessler warned the industry that this “DTC revolution” would land drug companies in courtrooms. And it has. But it also spawned a multibillion dollar market for the advertising industry and a growing, “re-branded” drug culture that often replaced traditional, hands-on healthcare with the dispensing of pills.

It also created a huge spike in research into “new” diseases and conditions. Sometimes those “new” diseases and conditions created new markets for new drugs coming through the R&D pipeline: Overactive Bladder, Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Restless Legs Syndrome, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), Underperforming Eyelashes, Female Hyposexuality, and even Canine Separation Anxiety.

Often, those new disease “brands” were simply a way for pharmaceutical companies to extend the 10-year patent that limits all drugs. Once that patent is up, the drug is open to generic drug-makers. To keep patent control over the drug, a new “disease” is matched to an existing drug. A new prescription indication is established and this creates a new 10-year patent.

As a result of this branding process, diseases that were often thought of as rare very quickly became branded a common: panic disorder, acid reflux, bipolar disorder, ADHD, clinical depression. All of these conditions were regarded as “rare” until a marketing campaign transformed the brand.

With worldwide pharmaceutical industry reaching $839B in 2011 and the US accounting for $320B of total sales, the importance of marketing and branding culture in generating these ever-growing sales is more intriguing than ever. 

Direct-to-Consumer marketing works. But what does it mean for healthcare? How has it changed doctoring? How has it affected American culture and society?

Ultimately, our film will illustrate how marketing has transformed American healthcare into a Pharmaceutical-Industrial Complex.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR, by Ned Judge and JP Sottile  

  • The Rise of DTC
  • Kessler's Warning, Branding and Early Campaigns
  • The Patent Cycle
  • Name That Drug
  • Disease Rebranding 
  • The Great American Pharmapillooza
  • Oh, The Side Effects
  • This is you, your kid and your dog on drugs. Any questions?
  • Just An Old Country Doctor
  • Drug Culture, 21st Century-style

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

"Because I had a sudden urge to gamble."

It's one of our favorite drug side-effects, and it is also what may have led you to back our film. The primary "gamble" here is the time vs. money equation.

Our projected budget should allow us to make a quality documentary about a complicated and, at times, hilarious topic, but we (Ned and JP) know that the best laid plans often run into roadblocks. Schedules don't match, interviewees get cranky, shoots go long and cutting the film always takes longer than planned. One year is our target, but we both know (and so should you) that films like this often take longer than expected.

We are used to deadlines and budget constraints (then comes the "but"), but problems often arise like: the cost of stock footage, the slow process of collecting relevant video and the inevitable shooting delays. Oh, the delays.

The primary delays might come from the drug industry and their marketing mavens. We want to hear from them, but they might be "uncooperative."

We're also counting on "fair use" of video and advertising to help tell the story. The Center for Social Media at American University has published guidelines and we intend on following those. However, legal challenges might occur.

Despite it all, our Talking Turkey team is used to being on a deadline with budget constraints, and we (Ned and JP) are co-directing and handling as many roles as we can. What we can promise you is that we will treat you like a partner in the process by keeping you informed on any delays that keep the film and/or your rewards from crossing the finish line on time.

-Ned & JP

FAQ

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    Thanks! We will set you up with access to our private "Pharmapillooza" Facebook group where you will get regular updates, interact with us and other crowd-sourcers, see postings on the latest news about Big Pharma and get all sorts of preview info and video sneek-peeks. You'll also get first dibs on purchasing the hot-off-the-presses DVD you helped make possible.

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    2 backers

    We will welcome you to the "Pharmapillooza" Facebook group with a cool, conversation-starting postcard/mini-poster featuring a list of our "Top Ten Side-Effects" on the front and a hearty thank you on the back. Pin it up on your office wall, use a magnet to post it on the fridge...it is our way of reminding you that we are grateful for your participation in crowd-sourcing the film.

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    We thank you for your support, but we cannot wait to thank you in the "Pharmapillooza" Facebook group and send you a nifty button with one of JP and Ned's "Top Ten Side Effects" on it.

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    We thank you for your support and we'd better show it. We not only want to send you the postcard and have you to join us and the rest of the crowd-sourcers on Facebook, but we will also send you a brand new DVD of the film.

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    We not only want to you to join us and the rest of the crowd-sourcers on Facebook, but we will also send you a DVD and a button with one of JP and Ned's "Top Ten Side Effects" on it.

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    6 backers

    Is it enough to just thank you and send you a DVD? Nope. We want to add your name to the film credits and give you an ASK YOUR DOCTOR T-Shirt emblazoned our favorite side effect: "I Had A Sudden Urge To Gamble" (which is probably why you to crowd-sourced our film!).

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    Now you've done it. You are now one of the crew, and we'll send you a Talking Turkey hat to seal the deal. Oh yeah, you get a DVD, your name to the film credits and an ASK YOUR DOCTOR T-Shirt emblazoned our favorite side effect: "I Had A Sudden Urge To Gamble".

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    You are one of the crew, so get you the Talking Turkey hat. You get five DVDs to share with your peeps, you get your name to the film credits as a Co-Producer and get the ASK YOUR DOCTOR T-Shirt emblazoned our favorite side effect: "I Had A Sudden Urge To Gamble".

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    You are a de facto Executive Producer, and we will make note of that in the credits.Yes, you get the Talking Turkey hat, you get 10 DVDs to hand out to family and friends and you get the ASK YOUR DOCTOR T-Shirt emblazoned our favorite side effect: "I Had A Sudden Urge To Gamble".

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Funding period

- (27 days)