I really see no need for comment. More fun from Big Pharma, courtesy of Dr. Jay Rowen, MD.
Inventing a Disease
You’ve got to admire the chutzpah of the marketers at pharmaceutical giant Glaxo-SmithKline PLC. They’ve figured out how to increase sales for one of their most popular drugs by more than $300 million a year. All they had to do was invent a disease for it to treat.
The name of the drug is Requip. It works by regulating the brain chemical dopamine, which is responsible for controlling body movements. It’s effective enough that it has become the drug of choice for doctors treating patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Then someone at Glaxo had an “ah-ha!” moment. There are millions more people who suffer from leg twitches at night than Parkinson’s. What if Requip became the drug of choice for them? Only problem was, “leg twitches” isn’t a disease. So HMOs and insurance companies won’t pay for prescriptions to treat it.
The wizards at Glaxo decided on a three-step campaign to change all that. First, they spent millions of dollars to educate the medical profession about a new disease. But not “leg twitches.” No, “restless leg syndrome” sounds much more serious. And “syndrome” is almost the same thing as “disease,” isn’t it? Glaxo’s ads in medical journals started carrying the tagline, “GlaxoSmithKline: A Leader in RLS Research.”
Next, Glaxo hired dozens of “sleep-disorder specialists” to go around the country, pitching local doctors about the seriousness of RLS and the wonders Requip could work in treating it. They invited the docs to lavish meals at country clubs and four-star restaurants, with Glaxo picking up the tab. They attended by the hundreds.
Finally, Glaxo spent millions more on TV ads aimed directly at consumers, to tell them that their pain has a name – and a drug to help treat it. Before you could say “gimme some of them pills,” Glaxo’s sales of Requip increased by more than $300 million a year. As they say, that ain’t hay.
But before you rush off to your doctor and ask him to prescribe a bottle or two of Requip for you, here’s a suggestion from one of my favorite health writers. Dr. Robert Rowen, editor of Second Opinion newsletter (www.secondopinionnewsletter.com), says if you’re bothered by leg twitches at night, chances are you’re suffering from a potassium deficiency.
He suggests eating a banana or two before you go to bed. Or get a bottle of potassium supplements from your local health food store. You could solve your problem without spending a fortune … or taking a fancy new drug with who-knows-what side effects.