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General News    H4'ed 2/18/20

The Latest TV Awareness Ad? Tardive Dyskinesia

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unbranded Pharma ads use stealth tactics
unbranded Pharma ads use stealth tactics
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The Latest TV Awareness Ad? Tardive Dyskinesia

Before TV drug ads, doctors tried to reassure patients they were probably fine. Today, drug ads and online "symptom checkers" do just the opposite. The most insidious are "unbranded" ads that scare people about a disease without mentioning that they are selling a drug for it.

Often the diseases are ridiculously rare like exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, shift work sleep disorder and non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder. But Pharma has a drug and it needs to create patients and "sufferers."

Unbranded advertising works well because many people think it is official information from public health groups like the CDC. Even TV and radio stations can be duped and run unbranded Pharma advertising free as "public service announcements."

The latest unbranded disease "awareness" campaign is for tardive dyskinesia (TD), a constellation of involuntary movements, often permanent, linked to antipsychotic drugs. Unlike non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder and the like, TD is a widespread, consequential condition adding to the stigma endured by people with severe psychiatric conditions.

TD has become more common, even among the young, as second general antipsychotics (SGAs) like Seroquel, Zyprexa, Abilify, Risperdal, Saphris and Invega are marketed for nonpsychotic conditions like autism, bipolar disorder, conduct disorders, ADHD, anxiety and depression. SGAs were largely approved because they didn't seem to cause TD compared to older antipsychotics. But they did and do--they were just rushed to market too soon.

Pharma's business model, with a cooperative FDA, is to rush a drug to market while its "long term safety is studied" reducing the public to guinea pigs. Then when "safety signals" surface--think the withdrawn Vioxx, Bextra, Baycol, Trovan, Meridia, Seldane, Hismanal, Darvon, Raxar, Redux, Mylotarg, Lotronex, Propulsid, Prexige, phenacetin, Oraflex, Omniflox, Posicor, Serzone and Duract--the drug has still made money, even if lawsuits follow.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)

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