1. Free samples aren’t free. Those free samples may seem great, but drug companies actually use them to get your doctor to prescribe the latest, most expensive drugs – even when those drugs are less effective than older, cheaper medications. Bottom line: those free samples mean that in the long run, you often pay more for drugs that are less effective.
2. Drug advertising puts you in danger and costs you money. The media is filled with ads for drugs that promise cures for everything from impotence to shyness. But did you know that drug companies do not have to get their ads approved before airing them? That means they can over-claim the benefits and under-claim the risks of the drugs they offer. And who do you think pays for those expensive ads? You do, in the form of more expensive prescriptions!
3. Drug companies are the most powerful lobby in Washington. Concerned about big special interests in politics? The drug company lobby is the largest in the country – bigger than oil & gas or tobacco. Drug companies spend $800 million a year to make sure laws that are supposed to protect you protect them instead.
4. Drug money funds the FDA. Huge budget cuts for the FDA and the National Institutes of Health mean that drug companies now fund much of the research that these public agencies do. When for-profit drug companies fund public agencies that are supposed to protect us, we can’t trust these agencies to give us the un-biased information we need to protect the safety of ourselves and our loved ones.
5. What do you care about? Add your own concerns to the list!
Want to do more to make sure you and your family get the safest, most cost effective medications available?
• Post comments on blogs. Blogs are becoming one of the most powerful, influential and accessible ways to create political change. When your favorite blog addresses the issue of healthcare, use the “Money Talks” Talking Points to add your voice to the debate. You can find a current list of important and influential political blogs at http://beltwayblips.dailyradar.com/blogs/
• Write a letter to your representative. Yes, it’s a classic, but it’s important. Keeping silence means the drug companies will continue to have more influence than we do over our elected leaders. And the best news is that most elected officials know that every letter they receive on an issue represents anywhere from 100 to 10,000 people (depending on the size of the district) who share the letter writer’s opinion – which means your one letter counts for up to 10,000 votes in favor of your position! You can find the contact information for your elected officials at http://www.votesmart.org/
• Nominate a drug ad for the Bitter Pill Awards. See an a drug ad with ridiculous or outrageous claims? Visit www.BitterPillAwards.org
• Join others who advocate for fair drug prices. The Prescription Access Litigation (http://www.prescriptionaccess.org) keeps a list of consumer advocacy groups in your state working on access to affordable drugs.
• Join a class action lawsuit. Class action lawsuits are one of the most effective ways of getting drug companies to stop using unethical practices to boost their profits. Contact the Prescription Access Litigation (PAL) Project about getting involved in one of their class action lawsuits against illegal drug company tactics. http://www.prescriptionaccess.org/lawsuitssettlements/current_lawsuits
• Share “Money Talks” with others. Give a copy of the film to your doctor and to friends and family. Donate a copy to your local library. Request that your local independent video store carry the film.
Don’t let the drug companies put your health and the health of your loved ones in danger.
To help make sure you and your family receive the safest and most cost effective medication available:
• Tell your doctor that you would prefer they not see drug reps or accept free samples. Ask them to sign the “No Free Lunch” pledge, agreeing not to accept any free gifts from drug companies: http://www.nofreelunch.org/
• Don’t assume that the newest drug on the market is the best. If your doctor suggests that an older drug may be more effective or appropriate for you than a drug you saw advertised, he may be right. Older drugs and generics may do as good a job or better at treating your illness without the risks and high costs associated with newer “designer” drugs.
• Ask for generic samples instead of the higher-priced “designer” drug samples you may be getting now. This way, you know the cost of your medication will still be affordable when your samples run out.
• Get objective information about the safety and effectiveness of drugs relative to their costs at the Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs website: http://www.crbestbuydrugs.org/
• Take your health into your own hands. You know better than anyone how your medications are affecting you. Keep a health journal where you keep track of how you’re feeling, when symptoms occur and what changes you experience if you start new medications. You will be able to have a more informed discussion with your doctor about what is truly happening to your body.