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!
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
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.
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
- Kessler's Warning, Branding and Early Campaigns
- The Great American Pharmapillooza
- 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
"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
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