Sunday, April 13, 2008

Social anxiety disorder medication advertising lawsuit in the making?

Social anxiety disorder medication advertising lawsuit in the making?

I read a piece in the local newspaper about social anxiety disorder. It was quite interesting and absolutely frightening at the same time. This is strictly my opinion but the impression I received from the piece was the medical profession and the drug manufactures are not just in bed together but living together.

My take on the matter is that there were too many psychiatrists in the world today and not enough patients. This had to be rectified, that was simple enough just add new mental disorders. Not very tough to do just take the disorder and break it down into more specific disorders. Such as twitching your right hand was a different disorder than twitching your left hand or right foot and if one of your eyes's blinked that was a different disorder then if both eyes blinked during the twitching. Look at that in one sentence I just listed 5 new social anxiety disorders.

Now for the next step how do we treat all these new disorders? The traditional manner of an actual hour (50 minutes) of therapy isn't going to work who wants to around the patient that long it would almost be like working. Another point is that even though we have had to create work for these psychiatrists it doesn't mean they are any good. It also would be annoying to charge a patient 1 hour to stop their right hand from twitching and before you could charge them for the therapy on their left hand they may have figured they could use the same idea on the left hand. So the doctor loses money.

Enter the drug companies. They also need more money to pay their CEO's and other executives the money they feel they deserve. Where can they get it?

Here's an idea lets sell a 1 pill fits all social anxiety disorder medication. An extremely high priced medication, the fact that the price is so high just to amass profits oh well. But how do we market it successfully. Doctors of course, wine, dine and gift the dear doctors. Suggest that these medications can cure all the ills of the disorder they just need to prescribe it. It benefits the doctors in that now they don't have to see the patient for the twitching on the right as well as they left for an hour each time and actually appear to work. They can see them for 15 minutes at a time and charge an hour to "monitor" the medication. Since they are only seeing the patient for 1/3 of the time they can triple their patient load and triple their income.

But how can we convince the patients they need this new medication wonder the doctors. Relax say the drug companies we will educate the population thru advertising on how at risk they are for these disorders. One manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline actually ran a $93 million dollar ad campaign under the guise of public awareness. Sit there with a straight face and tell me there is not an obscene profit in this medication when you can spend that much money just to start a campaign.

These drugs have all gone thru clinical trials. These trials are 4 phase with the first 2 lasting several months to a couple of years, the third and forth several more years. In all these steps the volunteers maybe paid. The physicians are paid and typically on a per patient fee. Wined, dined, gifted and now paid then able to triple their client base and income what a better marriage then the drug companies and the doctors.

Side effects? Of course. Everything has side effects. The FDA, the governmental agency that tests, and monitors all this says the side effects seen over several years in the testing phases are acceptable. I'm sure that computer models show that in the long term everything is fine. However didn't the FDA just come out and say that they were so understaffed with antiquated equipment that they couldn't do their job? How many other drugs can you remember that were approved yet in a matter of years sometimes less once they hit the mainstream market had to be pulled because of side effects including deaths after FDA approval? Then the lawsuits started. These lawsuits were against drugs used to treat long established and proven illnesses and diseases, and the damage awards were astronomical. Can you imagine what they would be for complications and injuries resulting from a self diagnosed "disease?" that the victims found out about from an ad campaign run by the drug manufacturer and endorsed by the physicians involved with the studies of the medications? It staggers the mind. If deaths or serious injury resulted I'm wondering if criminal action would be taken against individuals as well as the corporations.

I'd suggest at this time that the government step in and put an end to this type of what I perceive to unethical and dangerous behavior, but how can they when the agency responsible for it already approved this behavior?

With that in mind it is up to us the patients to question and verify the answers with 2nd and or 3rd opinions if necessary before we take any medication. Especially medications for "newly diagnosed social anxiety disorders" that we found out about in a Madison Ave ad campaign. In my mind no corporation is so altruistic that they would spend $93 million dollars to "educate the public" unless they expected to recoup it more than a hundred times over in sales.



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