November #53 : Drug Ads Add Up - by Shana Naomi Krochmal

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Table of Contents

How to End the Epidemic

Blame It on Your Hormones

Both Sides Now

Editor's Letter

Mailbox-November 1999

Rock of Aegis

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Class Act

Drug Ads Add Up

Life is better with HIV, say 49% of positive folks.

"Should Marijuana Be Legal for Medical Purposes?"

Less than 3,000 Served

All the Lonely People

A Squeeze-In at the Summit

Remembrance of Things Present

Future Shock

Cho & Tell

Babe in Boyland

Bad Faith

Get Well Soon

Dr. Leather Meets Mr. Right

Ties That Bind

Supreme Sacrifice

Pregnant Poz

How to Have a Healthy Baby

Spare the Breast

Stop PCP Pills?

The Big Queasy

On the Rebound

From the Gut

Hoop Dreams



Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

email print

November 1999

Drug Ads Add Up

by Shana Naomi Krochmal

Are pharmaceutical pitches breaking your bank? Activists have long claimed that high Rx prices result not from heavy research-and-development expenses, as the drug companies say, but from the profit motive. Yet a recent study of annual reports by DC-based AIDS Action found that the 15 largest U.S. drug companies collectively shelled out nearly three times the amount spent on r&d ($24 billion) for something else entirely: marketing ($68 billion). “The Titanic didn’t need ads to get people to the life-boats,” AIDS Action’s head, Daniel Zingale, sniffed. “They needed to get more life-boats to the people.”

But industry reps charge that the study was skewed by including administrative costs in the advertising and marketing figures. “It’s a strange mix,” said Jeff Trewitt, spokesperson for Pharmaceutical Research and Marketers of America. “Those administrative costs are legitimate.” Even so, said AIDS Action, a company should keep down overhead spending to justify “lowest possible price” claims.

One consumer with the pocketbook power to make change? The federal government, which—through its Medicaid and AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP)—is the country’s biggest payer for anti-HIV drugs ($1.5 billion annually). According to Peter Arno, professor of health economics at Albert Ein-stein Medical College, the study actually undercounted the feds’ AIDS-med bill. “The government has huge leverage to bring prices down,” he said.

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