Monday, July 27, 2009

The Things I Learn On The Internets

Via dday at Digby’s, I learn that apparently all of those “Viva Viagra” ads and Cialis ads and Sally Field hawking Boniva ads and ads for Abilify which I used to think was one of those words President Bush just made up and Janeane Turner hawking her fake Restasis tears and all of that pharmaceutical clutter on the TV is actually a tax deduction for Big Pharma.

WTF??? Big Pharma is getting a TAX DEDUCTION for pushing their drugs? Why? Who cooked that up?
Drug companies get a TAX DEDUCTION for running ads for their drugs. Is this true of Frosted Flakes? Audi? Xerox? Does any other company in America get subsidized for airing commercials to get America to buy their products? It's not "significant money," though, so ending this direct payout from taxpayers to drug companies got shelved.

Not significant money? In 2004 drug companies spent $4 billion on direct to consumer advertising.

Set aside for a second the hypochondria that a nightly barrage of ads telling you that you have restless leg syndrome or iron-poor blood or any of a thousand ailments induces. Set aside the self-medication and the boiling down of complex medical issues into 30-second spots showing couples running through a field. Set aside how drug ads increase demand for medications and thus the costs. Set aside that some of these ads run before the Food and Drug Administration even completes their studies of the side effects. You mean to tell me that I'm helping PAY for these things, too?

If “my tax dollars” are going to go somewhere, it sure as hell better not be to help a gazillion billion dollar industry pay to promote its product.

I still can’t believe this. I'm thinking it has to be a mistake.

[UPDATE]: dday has since learned that the deduction is as a business expense, not a straight tax deduction. That certainly changes the outrage factor on the tax issue. But I agree that direct to consumer marketing of pharmaceuticals is a really, really, really bad idea that should never have been allowed to begin with and probably should be repealed.

But it probably won't be repealed, ever, because have you seen how many freaking pharmaceutical ads are on CNN and MSNBC and the other networks these days? Not to mention the three and four page ads in magazines and newspapers, filled with all of that fine print about how you might die of oily anal discharge from your weight loss pill? If the mainstream media loses that revenue they're screwed. Since they have a dog in this fight, expect them to pull out all the stops to make sure the cash river keeps flowing.

Just a hunch.