Friday, July 27, 2007

Prilosec and NASCAR: Strange Bedfellows?

Just this afternoon I was prefilling a patient's medication box when I opened a package of Prilosec OTC. Now, as far as Big Pharma goes, I have benefited as much as anyone else from pharmaceutical advances over the years, and until just recently my brother worked as a scientist for a large pharmaceutical company which shall remain nameless. (Stock options are going to fund some portion of my niece's and nephew's college educations, so who am I to complain?) I have even taken Prilosec in the past, and now take a generic form of omeprazole daily.

Those disclosures aside, I was very much taken aback when I noticed a label on the Prilosec packaging proclaiming the company's sponsorship and support for NASCAR. This partnership seems to include sponsorship of a NASCAR racing car, LOTS of advertisement, sweepstakes competitions, as well as a website dedicated to Bunco, a dice game apparently popular with American suburban women.

Maybe it's me, but things just seem a little out of hand in the 21st century. If I was visiting from another planet and saw how a sports marketing group managed to pitch the idea of marketing a heartburn medicine through the venue of race cars and dice games, I would be considerably perplexed.

Of course, in this Information Age, marketing is everywhere. Targeted ads on Gmail respond to what you type to your friends and family. Advertisements crowd the smallest spaces on gasoline pumps and bottle caps. People are even paid to wear clothes with the price-tags still attached as a form of advertising. Soon people with shortly cropped hair will rent their scalps and have ads shaved on their craniums. Spare me.

While I appreciate Big Pharma's scientific advances in disease and symptom management, I am disturbed by the lengths their marketing teams will go to reach the public with their product. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but these unlikely (and, in my mind, unsightly) combinations reek of the worst type of marketing and product placement that money can buy.

Anyway, on the bright side, now that Prilosec is available over the counter, at least all those good folks who go to NASCAR races can control the heartburn caused by all that fast food and beer and soft drinks likely to be sold at such places. After all, the generous people at Proctor and Gamble probably give away lots of Prilosec samples at each event. Now there's a shining example of free healthcare for the masses!
Post a Comment