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PLOS Medicine, an online medical journal conducted a study using numbers from 2004 and concluded that pharmaceutical companies spent almost twice as much on marketing than on their research and development for their United States markets.

As a marketing person, on the one hand I am in awe of these marketing budgets, in excess of $57.5 billion dollars. But as a consumer, I’m a bit dismayed that the figures for research and development come in at just over half that amount at $31.5 billion dollars.

If anyone still believes that the pharmaceutical companies are in business for the good of mankind, let’s review those numbers again. $57.5 billions dollars on marketing and $31.5 dollars on research and development. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Pharmaceutical companies are for profit businesses and are in business to make money.

But, let’s consider those numbers in light of the recent Heparin recall. What if Baxter had spent more money on research and development? Could more extensive research and development have prevented the estimated 20 plus deaths and 700 plus adverse reactions? Common sense says yes.

The other disturbing trend in the marketing of drugs is now the pharmaceutical companies are marketing directly to consumers. Again, nothing wrong with that. Except we’re usually talking about medications that most people need. It’s not an optional luxury item for most people; they need this medication to survive. And in the case of medications, the consumer is usually not educated enough to determine if that particular medication is right for them or not. But, they saw it on television and we all know that every advertisement you see on TV is truthful.

Ultimately, it’s the consumer is who is paying for that $57.5 marketing budget. I don’t know about you, but I rather pay for more research and development.

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