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Pharmaceutical marketing is the business of
The marketing of medication has a long history.
The selling of miracle cures, many with little real potency,
has always been common. Marketing of legitimate non-prescription
medications, such as pain relievers or allergy medicine, has
also long been practiced. Mass marketing of prescription medications
was rare until recently, however. It was long believed that
since doctors made the selection of drugs, mass marketing was
a waste of resources, when specific ads targeting the medical
profession would be cheaper and just as effective. This would
involve ads in professional journals, and visits by sales staff
to doctor's offices and hospitals. An important part of these
efforts was marketing to medical students.
Since the 1980s new methods of marketing for
non-prescription drugs have become important. Patients are far
less deferential to doctors and will inquire about, or even
demand, to receive a medication they have seen advertised on
television. In the United States recent years have seen an increase
in mass media advertisements for pharmaceuticals.
The marketing of pharmaceuticals is controversial.
Some feel it is better to leave the decision wholly in the hands
of medical professionals.
Due to these concerns, some areas impose limits
on pharmaceutical marketing that are not placed on the marketing
of other products. In some areas it is required that ads for
drugs end with a list of possible side effects, so that consumers
are informed of both facets of a medicine. Canada has especially
harsh limitations on pharmaceutical advertising. Commercials
that mention the name of a product cannot in any way describe
what it does. Commercials that mention a medical problem cannot
also mention the name of the product for sale, at most it can
direct the viewer to a website or telephone number operated
by the pharmaceutical company.