Many people are prescribed antidepressant drugs they do not need. When this happens their mental balance may be thrown off and it can and has ruined many lives just like illegal drugs have.
Effexor is an antidepressant drug created by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. I want to show you their product through the eyes of a marketer and a humanitarian and let you decide on how pure their intentions are. It is good to market your products, but it is also good to have a hint of honesty about it as well.
How Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Markets Effexor XR
If you search Google for something like norepinephrine (Google Search: norepinephrine) you will see a Google AdWords ad promoting Effexor.
Their Google AdWords ad:
Notice that domain name. It is "The Change You Deserve." That sounds like good marketing to me. Once we go to their page we see that they talk about a couple of the common reasons their drug would be prescribed. They then throw out this paragraph.
EFFEXOR XR is known as an SNRI (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) and is believed to help treat depression and the associated symptoms of anxiety by affecting the level of two chemicals in the brain—serotonin and norepinephrine. These two chemicals are thought to play a key role in depression and the associated symptoms of anxiety. Correcting the imbalance of these two chemicals may help relieve depression symptoms and the associated symptoms of anxiety—which can be a positive step toward getting your life back.
In that paragraph the words serotonin and norepinephrine are green to draw attention to them. Once you scroll over those words they bring up yellow overlib boxes stating the same thing they say about either of the neurotransmitters in their glossary.
Notice they fail to give any legitimate specific information about either neurotransmitter or how exactly they tie in with depression. They then proceed with a bunch more information which leads to "Ask your doctor if EFFEXOR XR is right for you. Ask your doctor for additional information about EFFEXOR XR." The goal here is to have people walk to the doctor thinking they NEED this drug.
<sidebar> Most doctors do not even attempt to take a urine sample or try to find out the ratio of tryptophan to LNAA in the blood prior to handing out prescriptions. If your problems do not relate to your serotonin or norepinephrine levels, or if your levels are already too high then this drug will likely make your condition worse.</sidebar>
Is Effexor XR Marketed Ethically?
You can say a person gets what they deserve if they take things that alter their neurochemistry without extensive research first. I am not going to call Effexor an unethically marketed drug for the above statements. That all might just be good marketing.
I will say that the person who made the following portion of their site is questionable in my opinion. It is a two question quiz which seems as though it is an honest assessment of your depressive condition. Upon further review it becomes a bit more questionable. (please note: they recently updated this section. this information was 100% accurate as of 15 April 2004.)
Quiz: Are Symptoms of Depression Interfering With Your Life?
Question 1: "Over the past couple of weeks, have you experienced any of the following symptoms on a regular basis?"
They list 11 options. 10 of them are common side effects of depression and the 11th is "No symptoms." For the quiz to work you must chose at least one of these. I chose "No symptoms."
Question 2: "Keeping in mind the symptoms you may be experiencing, choose the number that best represents how you've felt over the past couple of weeks."
This is a 1 - 10 scale, going from blue to yellow to green. Oddly enough this is a green which is similar to the other greens throughout the website, reinforcing a subconscious association of happiness with Effexor.
(The worst I ever felt)
Here is the cool part. Based on the color charts one would presume that yellow would be normal. So a normal person would probably score somewhere in the yellow. If you score anything less than an 9 on this exam -even if you have 0 depressive symptoms- then you get the following response:
If you do score an 9 or 10 you get the following response
You indicated that you're feeling the best you've ever felt—or close to it. That's great. You may want to check back periodically to see how your symptoms change from day to day. If you reach a point at which you see room for improvement in your symptoms, you may want to talk to your doctor and ask about EFFEXOR XR, a treatment option that may help you get back to your life again—a life virtually free of the symptoms of depression.
There is something called "TRUTH IN ADVERTISING." I do not think that ad represented it in any way. Perhaps that is why they recently redid their marketing.
On the first question they just list depressive side effects versus making you fill out the questions. I am betting that collecting this data became unnecessary since it likely had no effect on the results. They also changed the numbers required for the different responses. Below is how their current quiz works (as of 20 June 2004).
Now 5 or below:
Based on your answers it seems there may be room for improvement. If so, maybe it's time to talk to your doctor and ask about EFFEXOR XR, a treatment option that may help you get back to your life again—a life virtually free of the symptoms of depression.
This still seems a bit sketchy to me for two reasons:
Now 6 - 10
You indicated that you're feeling well. That's good.
You may want to check back periodically to see how your symptoms change from day to day. If you reach a point at which you see room for improvement in your symptoms, you may want to talk to your doctor and ask about EFFEXOR XR, a treatment option that may help you get back to your life again—a life virtually free of the symptoms of depression.
They do have a disclaimer on the results page:
Please Note: This self-quiz is not a formal diagnostic tool. It is meant to help identify symptoms of depression. If you experience symptoms of depression, see your health care professional. Only a health care professional can actually diagnose depression.
Though I bet not many people read it, and I doubt it hurts sales at all.
Facts about Depression:
Depression & Drug Resources:
Tryptophan Becoming Illegal:
Antidepressants Linked to Suicide?
Antidepressant Side Effects & Withdrawl Problems
Dishonesty & Big Drug Companies
Illegal Drug Pushing (via Kickbacks, Bribes & Off Label Marketing)
Fines received by the biggest & baddest pharma corps for doing shady things like off-label marketing of their drugs, cheating medicade, bribes & offering doctors kickbacks to promote their products
Depression & Drug Feedback
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Effexor: TheMarketingYouDeserve - offers information about the current state of questionable drug marketing in the United States.
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