The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3244.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 1:00 PM

Abstract #68918

Marketing menopause: Manufacturing need, manufacturing knowledge

Amy Allina, National Women's Health Network, 514 Tenth Street, NW, Fourth Floor, Washington, DC 20004, 202-347-1140,

Promotional spending by drug companies reached almost $20 billion in 2001. This money was not spent just on ads -- the activity most visible to the general public -- but also on efforts to influence the practices of health care providers. This paper analyzes the impact of drug promotion on health, using the example of the industry's success in shaping the medical treatment of menopause to demonstrate the triumph of marketing over science. Pharmaceutical industry spokespeople say drug promotion efforts educate consumers and health care providers and have a positive effect on public health. But there are serious pitfalls in relying on marketing to fill the voids in health education. Nothing demonstrates these pitfalls better than the example of the marketing of hormone therapy and the effect it has had on the medical treatment of menopause. Skirting (and in some cases defying) the regulations intended to protect consumers from drug company deception, manufacturers of hormone therapy products established estrogen as the number one selling drug in the country. Each time medical research uncovered health risks that raised concerns about estrogen, marketers came up with a new claim about why women needed the drugs to stay healthy and happy. In 2002, the Women's Health Initiative found that for most healthy older women, the risks of hormone therapy are greater than the benefits. The response to these results will test the capacity of the U.S. health care system to ensure that science and medicine, rather than profit-driven marketing, shape women's health care.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Public Health Advocacy, Menopause

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

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The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA