Just a few years ago, pharmaceutical companies got wise to the fact that there was an amazing amount of health information on the Web and that patients were increasingly using it in preference to traditional media. They responded by making a Web presence part of the basic marketing strategy of virtually every pharma product.
On a recent visit to YouTube, I saw plenty of commercials. Much like iTunes before it, YouTube is a perfect place to host commercials. The ads have already aired for millions of dollars on television—why not take advantage of the free server space and post them on the Web for more people to see? But there was much, much more:
A rep for an antipsychotic medication talked about how he couched side effect information when talking to doctors: "A professor of mine said statistics are like prisoners of war," he announced. "You torture them long enough and they will say anything."
A pudgy, pasty guy sat in front of his computer talking about his Generalized Anxiety Disorder. (Not to play amateur doctor, but judging from his skin tone, I'd bet that one of his symptoms is agoraphobia.)
A well-coiffed woman in a tailored suit said she was a former rep and discussed how she both detailed an antianxiety medication and got hooked on it herself.
You may not like all the messages these folks are sending. But they've become part of the way health information is spread. It's time you joined the party.
Med School in My Pocket
One leader in health-related video is the Cleveland Clinic. When it first started uploading video podcasts in November 2005, the fear was that the technology skewed so young that the audience would be interested only in stories about skateboarding injuries.