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Hearts, Minds, and Maladies: Toward a Critical Theory of the Commodification of Pharmaceuticals
Unformatted Document Text:  20 drugs and DTC [Direct to Consumer Advertising]. It seems everybody has a knife to throw at the healthcare industry’” (O’Connell 2002). Ad agencies are only too eager to support the integrity their most valued client. Nor has the creation and cultivation of demand via the branding and commodification of drug products by the pharmaceutical industry gone unchallenged by employers. It is a salient campaign issue across the United States as this paper is being written. It is estimated that the costs of employee health benefit plans for large corporations will rise by 15% in 2003. Corporations, however, are opting to pay less and less of the costs of health insurance and are increasingly placing the burden on employees themselves. (Landers 2002b). In addition, many employers are joining together to oppose drug advertising which they link to inflated prescription drug costs. For example, General Motors spent $55 million dollars for the purchase of the patented Prilosec, the little purple heartburn pill. Prilosec, the most expensive drug for GM, had a considerably heavy advertising campaign which GM blames for it costing 13 times the price of its generic equivalent. To fight prescription drug costs a variety of companies including GM, Ford, Wal-Mart Stores, and Weyerhauser have banded together with the governors of several states to form Business for Affordable Medicine (BAM) to petition Congress to prevent pharmaceutical companies from taking advantage of loopholes where patents are unfairly extended. (Burton 2002.) The drug industry has mobilized its lobbyists in Washington who have contacted BAM member companies to persuade them to drop out of the coalition, with limited success. (McGinley and Hensley 2002.) With elections looming in November President Bush signed legislation to this effect in October 2002. The long term impact of such legislation in a predominantly neoliberal environment remains uncertain. The drug industry has also suffered a considerable setback in profits

Authors: Tracy, James.
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drugs and DTC [Direct to Consumer Advertising]. It seems everybody has a
knife to throw at the healthcare industry’” (O’Connell 2002). Ad agencies are
only too eager to support the integrity their most valued client.
Nor has the creation and cultivation of demand via the branding and
commodification of drug products by the pharmaceutical industry gone
unchallenged by employers. It is a salient campaign issue across the United
States as this paper is being written. It is estimated that the costs of employee
health benefit plans for large corporations will rise by 15% in 2003.
Corporations, however, are opting to pay less and less of the costs of health
insurance and are increasingly placing the burden on employees themselves.
(Landers 2002b). In addition, many employers are joining together to oppose
drug advertising which they link to inflated prescription drug costs. For
example, General Motors spent $55 million dollars for the purchase of the
patented Prilosec, the little purple heartburn pill. Prilosec, the most expensive
drug for GM, had a considerably heavy advertising campaign which GM blames
for it costing 13 times the price of its generic equivalent. To fight prescription
drug costs a variety of companies including GM, Ford, Wal-Mart Stores, and
Weyerhauser have banded together with the governors of several states to form
Business for Affordable Medicine (BAM) to petition Congress to prevent
pharmaceutical companies from taking advantage of loopholes where patents
are unfairly extended. (Burton 2002.) The drug industry has mobilized its
lobbyists in Washington who have contacted BAM member companies to
persuade them to drop out of the coalition, with limited success. (McGinley and
Hensley 2002.) With elections looming in November President Bush signed
legislation to this effect in October 2002. The long term impact of such legislation
in a predominantly neoliberal environment remains uncertain.
The drug industry has also suffered a considerable setback in profits


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