Advertising Depression

  • by: |
  • 08/19/2005

A rant appeared on Dr. John Grohol’s World of Psychology blog assailing GlaxoSmithKline for targeting a direct-to-consumer education campaign at, well, the consumer. The author is peeved not only because GlaxoSmithKline and other drug companies actually make a profit, but that they are advertising their products by repackaging already available information. He argues instead that drug companies should spend shareholder dollars promoting free online depression information or, better yet, send people directly to psychologistsâ offices without mention of any drug. (This is particularly rich since the host site, which repackages and serves as a portal to already available information, prominently pushes a book by Grohol on which he is presumably earning a profit.)

It might never occur to the author that the advertising from a drug company is actually the impetus that pushes a person suffering from depression into a doctor’s office. After all, GlaxoSmithKline and all other drug companies are powerless to 1) force anyone to purchase company products or 2) even sell products directly to consumers. Drug companies must rely on the professional opinion of doctors who may or may not prescribe the company’s product that provided the push to get the patient to seek professional help.

If one thinks that depression is an under-treated condition that has negative consequences for individuals, rants such as this are irrational. Perhaps the author might want to spend some quality time on a couch.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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