$25 Billion a Year
Industry competition has grown fiercer and the money spent on promotions larger.
"[Promoting has] become more extensive," Abrams says. "Currently, industry spends $25 billion a year on promotion; I think
it is going to continue to increase. It appears companies are more aggressive in competition with other companies. It's leading
to more extensive promotion and more intense promotion. [But] I wouldn't be able to say that it's correlated to pushing it
beyond what's permitted."
Instead, Abrams offers some advice: "I would encourage industry to do the right thing, and make promotion an asset to public
health. That is, educate people rather than just trying to sell a product for the short term."
BACKGROUND: Fifty-year-old Abrams, a New Jersey native, has been with FDA since 1993. Before that, Abrams worked as a pharmacist and manager
at an independent drug store in Edison, New Jersey while pursuing his MBA at Rutgers Business School. Abrams joined 3M in
1987 and then went to work at Merck in 1989. "It was very different from being a pharmacist," says Abrams. "I was in the sales
and marketing side and I enjoyed my time there. I learned a lot from both companies. To this day, I admire the pharmaceutical
industry for the drug discoveries they make."