How do you sell a bad drug? With great marketing--and Big Pharma has some of the best marketing in the world.
They're so good they can market their meds without actually naming the drug... or even mentioning that there is one. And they can start months or even years before the drug is even approved.
Take the not-so-subtle "education" campaign that's been leaving women from coast to coast questioning their sex lives.
The ads and Web site feature soap star Lisa Rinna, who's been known to provide way too much information about her intimate moments with husband Harry Hamlin. This campaign has some women believing that anyone who is not engaging in steady sexual fantasy is suffering from "hypoactive sexual desire disorder."
There's no FDA-approved treatment for the condition, so you won't hear about any in the ads. But dig a little deeper, and you'll see that this campaign is being funded by Boehringer-Ingelheim, makers of flibanserin--a drug sitting in the FDA's queue right now, waiting to be approved as the first female sex med.
"It's like priming the market," Lisa Schwartz, associate professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, told US News & World Report. "Disease awareness is a very important part of [preparing for] an upcoming ad campaign."
Like I said, these guys are good.
Sign up, and you can bet the bank that you'll start getting flibanserin mailings about five minutes after the drug is approved.
That's why they make the big bucks--but the money they're making now is nothing next to what they could earn if this med turns into the so-called female Viagra, which has been Big Pharma's holy grail for years.
I've told you a little about this drug before--it was designed to be an antidepressant, but failed during clinical trials. And even as a sex med, it didn't exactly have people lining up to replace worn-out mattresses.
Women in clinical trials reported an average of 2.7 satisfying sexual encounters per month before taking flibanserin. Afterwards, they reported 4.5--a modest increase that gets much less impressive when you see that those on the placebo also got a boost, up to 3.7 encounters per month.
That extra .8 of a sexual encounter per month between the placebo and the med can come with a not-so-sexy cost: Side effects of flibanserin include fatigue, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, urinary infections and--ironically, for a supposed sex med--headaches.
And since it's a new med, there's no indication at all of what the long-term side effects may be. But I'm pretty sure they have a long-term marketing plan already laid out.
In Big Pharma's world, your health will always be secondary to that marketing.