[SaneVax: Where does one draw the line between public service announcements and marketing vaccines? Has GlaxoSmithKline made an attempt to duplicate Merck’s success with Gardasil by creating another market out of thin air? At least some medical professionals in India believe that is exactly what is going on. It seems once death is associated with any particular virus, it is much easier to sell a vaccine to frightened parents. Read the following article about advertising the ‘risks’ of Rotavirus in India shortly prior to the release of a vaccine to ‘cure’ the problem.]
How drug companies use Rotavirus to frighten new moms and dads
Posted in Moneylife
In July 2012, leading pharmaceutical major GlaxoSmithKline started issuing advertisements saying that nearly five lakh babies die in India due to Rotavirus. Hence, the aim was clearly to ensure that Rotavirus vaccines become a part of the mandatory vaccines that are given to new born babies and infants. What makes this advertisement interesting is that it did not promote a particular company but the need for the vaccine. In other words, here was a sly attempt by the pharmaceutical companies to unite and look forward to ‘creating’ a new market.
So, what is Rotavirus and its threat? Rotavirus is spread by ingestion of the virus through contaminated food, and effective hygiene helps in reducing the spread of infection. Former vice chancellor of Manipal University Prof Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan recipient has written a detailed and precise article shattering myths about Rotavirus. Dr Hegde debunks the process of vaccination by informing us that vaccination is now sold using statistical tricks of relative risk reduction while suppressing the most useful absolute risk reduction. The story also illustrates that medical companies have been using statistics as their weapon to sell ideas to gullible and doctors. The article also points to relevant studies quoted in the British Medical Journal.
What did the pharma companies aim to achieve by its so-called public service advertisement warning people about the Rotavirus vaccine? Once the alleged dangers of being affected by rotavirus are implanted in the minds of parents, pharmaceutical companies only need to push prescription by having armies of medical representatives to work on the doctors to promote it. Once a particular doctor also endorses the scare, then it is a win-win situation both for the pharmaceutical industry and the medical fraternity at the cost of ordinary people.
Read the entire article here.