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Pharmaceutical marketing

Pharmaceutical marketing is the business of selling pharmaceuticals.

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.