Consumer Reports critiques Abilify ad because "it scares us"


The seventh in an important series of Consumer Reports drug AdWatch videos is now available online.

It's on Abilify, a Bristol-Myers Squibb drug originally approved for treating schizophrenia and then for bipolar disorder and then as an adjunct depression treatment.

Consumer Reports states:

We totally get why Bristol-Myers Squibb is doing this. There are, after all, only so many people in the world who have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Depression, on the other hand, is a veritable cash cow among mental-health conditions. One in seven people will experience a depressive episode at some point in their lives. If you want to sell upwards of $2 billion a year of a drug, that's the kind of market you need. And, in Abilify's defense, the use of antipsychotics along with antidepressants in hard-to-treat cases of depression isn't new. Psychiatrists have long prescribed the drugs off-label for that purpose, and there's one drug on the market, Symbyax, that combines olanzapine with the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac and generic). But because of their harsher side effects, antipsychotics are usually considered an option of last resort for depression, to be tried only after exhausting other options such as a different antidepressant, a different dose of the same antidepressant, or a combination of two antidepressants together. Not surprisingly, the Abilify ad doesn't get into that. Quite the contrary, it seems to suggest that if the first antidepressant you try isn't enough, you can, and should, jump right onto Abilify as an add-on.

If this business of marketing an extremely powerful psychiatric drug to the public on TV and in popular magazines like People seems insidious to you, well, us too. But there could be more to come. Perhaps inspired by Abilify's unbelievable success, the competing (and seriously side-effect plagued) drug quetiapine (Seroquel) is now seeking approval as a depression add-on. What a very depressing battle of the ads that could be.


Why is it that the US is one of only two countries that allows direct to consumer advertising by the drug companies? Actually, I know the answer, $$$$$$. But maybe banning that could be worked into the health care legislation?

I can see both sides of the advertising dilemma. In a more critically thinking society, ads would be used to create awareness. Instead they DO create demand. This, however, can and should be re-directed by physicians. That of course is a demand on THEIR time.
As for the complaint that it is about money, indeed it is about money. Money is what drives successful research. Consumer Reports would prefer more Socialism (I do subscribe and read the mag) in my opinion, but like it or not, in this world in which we live, reward drives most success and innovation.
As to side effects, again, the patient and physician are supposed to discuss this, right?

The following is a reprint from an article posted to: under parmsplace on Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:59 pm

Drug Companies Promote Drug Addiction.

I am not dissing drug companies. They do what they do and they do it well. They create a market for drugs and then they sell drugs to that market.

Just good business.

But they have moved from selling drugs we need to creating a need for drugs.

They are better at it than crack salesman. And they're not against the law. They're free to do whatever their lobbyists can convince Congress they should be able to do. If crack salesman had lobbyists crack wouldn't be against the law. In fact, for most of our history cocaine has been legal. Cocaine was the coke in Coca-Cola.

We are now promoting drugs to children to combat "childhood" depression, or blue days. Blue days are a symptom of childhood.

To put children as young as three years old on antidepressants is, IMHO, beyond ridiculous. It is scandalous. Parents too busy to pay attention to their children's needs follow the prescriptions of "doctors". Doctors are the drug companies first line of offense.

Any doctor who treats childhood as a curable disease should be defrocked and run out of town. Our children are being taught pill popping is the answer for everything. They get started on mood elevators or mood levelers like Ritalin and they end up popping Vicodin like candy when they are old enough to convince a doctor they need medicinal help. And the doctors oblige. In Michael Jackson's case, he was obliged to death.

Alcohol is legal and it is perhaps the most destructive drug available.

Marijuana is illegal and it is perhaps the most constructive drug available.

We have no drug sense anymore. Gimme some Ritalin.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gary Schwitzer published on July 31, 2009 6:48 AM.

A network TV health research story that was reckless, veering toward malicious was the previous entry in this blog.

Surgeon's fees: $2000 for dinner, $900 for conference call. Story: priceless. is the next entry in this blog.

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