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Film, Science

RIDM Preview: Big Pharma Big Bucks

Posted by Hannah / November 15, 2006

allegra.jpgLately, things just haven’t been feeling right, you know? Where are my golden fields of waist-high grasses, my miles of sandy beaches with crashing waves, and my bicycle trips? Why haven't I been singing in the shower?

Lately, I’ve been watching too much TV and letting the drug ads get to me.

But it’s not me. It’s them. Big Bucks Big Pharma set me straight. The film dissects the pharmaceutical industry’s marketing practices and how it makes us think about health and wellbeing. By attaching social meaning to the products, the ads stir up emotions, and generally make us feel unfulfilled. It's a quick fix for many of our social ills.


“Ask your doctor about …” Heard that one before? One woman went to her doctor’s office and asked about Cialis, a male impotence medication, because she was so moved by the ads.

The film looks at big pharma’s role in manufacturing disease (ever heard of PMDD?) and manipulating doctors, by offering the expert opinions of physicians, the insider's view from ex-pharma sales reps and Marcia Angell, the former Editor in Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, and author of The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It (June 2006).

The information is important, but it isn’t that new. It's been covered by TV news magazines and journalists in book-length form. To set itself apart, the film really could dig deeper into the relationships big pharma has with U.S. Congress and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Instead it's more of a training video for young doctors, dominated by news clips and excerpts of pharmaceutical ads, all overlaid with staid narration (and it’s not Morgan Freeman, either).

But let's not forget that some of these medications do help some people, it's just that our doctors shouldn't be coerced in their prescribing. You will learn something, and if you take prescription drugs, your next doctor's appointment will be different.

Showing Thursday, November 16 at 12:30 p.m., 145 President Kennedy.

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