Observations MEDICINE AND THE MEDIA

Having the last laugh at big pharma

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39133.480880.59 (Published 22 February 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:396
  1. Rebecca Coombes (rcoombes@bmjgroup.com)

    How campaigners are creating humorous videos to hit back at the drug industry

    Satire is becoming the latest weapon of campaigners against the influence of drug companies. A series of wickedly clever parodies has been posted in recent months on internet sites such as YouTube (www.youtube.com) and has quickly proved successful in communicating an anti-“big pharma” message to a wide audience.

    The most popular spoofs in circulation target direct to consumer drug advertising, which was legalised in the United States in 1997 and is now a mainstay of the country's television advertising. The object of the lampooning is the way in which drug companies, it is suggested, turn ordinary ailments into medical problems. The new breed of satirists claim that prescription drug advertisements are now so powerful that they can convince well people that they are sick and need the advertised drug.

    The current buzz is around a mock advertising campaign for “Havidol” (as in “Have it all”), a sharply observed parody that promises to treat a mock illness, dysphoric social attention consumption deficit anxiety disorder (DSACDAD).

    Feel empty after a full day of shopping? Enjoy new things more than used ones? Does life seem better when you have more than others? Then, claims Havidol's website …

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