catchy names and bad drugs

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I remember, only a few years ago, I would throw down a statistic to my 101 students that pharmaceutical companies would spend over $5,000 per year, per doctor on advertising. My father, a neonatologist, would always have a fistful of pens and pencils with wild names like Seladin. I would come to school with little notepads with funny names with lots of consonants. Sometimes, I would get to try a new medicine for my allergies.

But now those ad dollars go directly to you, the TV veiwer. With the cheery commercials for ‘Celebrex‘ and other feel-goodly named purple pills (dancing in fields, middle aged folk hugging and mugging for the camera, etc.), and their apparent stock exchange downfall, I’m thinking about the good old days when I didn’t know about the latest drugs, and trusted my doctor. The zeitgeist might be shifting a little (although, without a doubt, folks still come to the doctor hoping for a pill to cure whatever ails them). It’s a few months old, but there’s still a great piece by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker on drug spending.

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