It wouldn’t surprise me, and if it’s the case, something needs to be done.

From Science Daily:

A new study by two York University researchers estimates the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends almost twice as much on promotion as it does on research and development, contrary to the industry’s claim.

The researchers’ estimate is based on the systematic collection of data directly from the industry and doctors during 2004, which shows the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spent 24.4% of the sales dollar on promotion, versus 13.4% for research and development, as a percentage of US domestic sales of US$235.4 billion. […]

As well, note the authors, the number of meetings for promotional purposes has dramatically increased in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, jumping from 120,000 in 1998 to 371,000 in 2004, further supporting their findings that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is marketing-driven.

Listen, I believe in free markets, capitalism, etc, but if these companies are really spending more to market their products than developing them, then consumers simply aren’t paying fair prices for needed medication. And the free market is supposed to bring the most competitive prices, not the most expensive marketing campaigns.

And do know that all this advertising does is create demand for products that people don’t even need. Talk to any doctor and you’ll hear the same story. People come in asking for “The Purple Pill” when a different medication (or none) would be better. But because people have been seduced, they insist on it. What’s a doctor to do?

Also, I haven’t even touched on all the free stuff doctors get from these companies to pimp the branded product over the generic.

Time to start rethinking how we allow companies to market this stuff in our already overmedicated society.

Home Business Does Pharma Spend More On Ads Than R&D?