Big Bucks, Big Pharma – Review


Big Bucks, Big Pharma is a short documentary about the pharmaceutical industry and asks some tough questions about the way it operates, paying particular attention to advertising, interactions with doctors and medical students, and other areas where it claims the industry is manipulating the public simply to boost sales.

Does the use of commercials sway people to ask for drugs based on their emotional response to the ads? Is this $550 billion dollar industry misrepresenting the safety of their products and using a lot of “Me too” drugs (drugs that are virtually the same) to make money? Are they trying to promote new conditions in order to repackage old drugs (such as Prozac’s reintroduction as Sarafem by Eli Lilly)? Are adverse drug reactions the 5th leading cause of death in the US, causing 100,000 deaths and 1.5 million hospitalizations a year?

“When the drug companies test their drugs and submit their evidence to the FDA to get approval they don’t have to compare the new drugs with old drugs that treat the same condition. They just have to compare their new drugs with a placebo, a sugar pill, which means that all they are really showing is that the new drug is better than nothing.”- Marcia Angell, MD former editor of New England Journal of Medicine, interview in Big Bucks, Big Pharma

According to this film, the answer to all of the above is yes. It’s quite obviously out to demonize legal drug pushers, but perhaps these are the kind of questions you want asked when you allow people to market medicine. It’s a bit unsettling. Want to be unsettled? Here’s a trailer:

Want more info? Try some of these:

Katharine Greider’s Book The Big Fix

Worst pills best pills website

American Medical student associations website

no free lunch group wiki page

 Even Pharma’s Good Deeds Are Criticized from Forbes

2 thoughts on “Big Bucks, Big Pharma – Review

    • Yeah, it definitely seems a bit unethical to show smiley happy actors going about enjoying their lives and trying to sell people on the idea that not only are they possibly sick, but that the pills they are hawking could make them as happy as the smiling (and fine) actors on TV. We might not think it consciously, but I think it’s there. It’s just…devious.


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