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Thursday, April 18, 2024

A study from a Canadian university earlier this month estimated the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends almost twice as much on promotions as it does on research and development, contrary to the industry's claim.

In 2004, that was ,57.5 billion spent on pharmaceutical promotion.

I was surprised to read this, as I had thought the industry spent all of its money on promotion, judging by its ubiquitous TV ads.

Take those "Viva Viagra" commercials, for example. After securing rights to the song, getting someone to rework the lyrics, hiring a band and rounding up enough middle-aged male models, the pharmaceutical company in question would probably have only enough money to wine and dine a few unsuspecting family doctors near you.

Note: If you have an erection lasting more than four hours, call your doctor. But before calling your doctor, get in touch with the folks at Guinness World Records.

Advertising for drugs comes with a cost, however. Pages and pages of fine print don't exactly write themselves. That two-and-a-half minute Celebrex commercial from last year is a perfect example. The cartoon characters in the ad were literally drawn in their own fine print. When I first saw it, I thought it was a Saturday Night Live sketch, which seems to be the test of any good drug commercial.

Now the drug companies have enough money to promote diseases you didn't even know existed. That reminds me, I need to ask my doctor about restless legs syndrome.

But a new drug never makes it to that type of brilliant promotion until after extensive, expensive clinical trials.

That's where cash-strapped college students come in.

My next-door neighbor growing up made a second career from this kind of voluntary medical testing. He eventually became a consultant on the "X-Men" movies, if I remember correctly. Admittedly, the medical community has been interested in my body ever since I climbed up a downward escalator in the early '90s, but I never would have thought myself worthy of such experimentation.

However, I could use the extra money. Prescription drugs don't exactly grow on trees.

A few local ads in Friday's Alligator caught my eye.

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"500 Plasma Donors Needed Now!" I don't know about that. "Plasma" just sounds important. They pay you ,70 a week for it now, sure, but then you'll get charged twice as much next week when you need it back - like a pawn shop dealing in bodily fluids.

Next, we have an osteoporosis drug trial with UF's Center for Clinical Trials Research.

Let's see, drug and alcohol testing will be done, and there are two five-day, four-night stays at some kind of resort off Archer Road.

I'll be calling them today. Wait, here's another one.

"Are you suffering from ADD/ADHD symptoms?" Uh-oh.

"Are you 18 to 30 years old?" Yes.

"Do you speak and read English well?" Por supuesto, I mean, of course.

"Do you have difficulty organizing tasks or completing projects?" All the time.

"Do you feel overly active or restless/squirmy?" Yes, especially right now. I have restless legs syndrome. How strange of you to notice.

"Do you put things off that you feel will be difficult to do?" You should see me write a column every week.

But they forgot to ask me the most important question: "Couldn't you just be lazy?"

Vincent Massaro is a journalism senior. His column appears on Mondays.

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