Curing the disobedient patient: Medication adherence programs as pharmaceutical marketing tools

Matt Lamkin, Carl Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pharmaceutical companies have long focused their marketing strategies on getting doctors to write more prescriptions. But they lose billions in potential sales when patients do not take their prescribed drugs. Getting patients to "adhere" to drug therapies that have unpleasant side effects and questionable efficacy requires more than mere ad campaigns urging patients to talk to their doctors. It requires changing patients' beliefs and attitudes about their medications through repeated contact from people patients trust. Since patients do not trust drug companies, these companies are delivering their marketing messages through nurses, pharmacists, and even other patients - leveraging patients' trust in these intermediaries to persuade them to consume more brand name drugs. Armed with the premise that better adherence improves patients' health, drug companies justify manipulating patients by reframing reasonable decisions to decline therapy as pathological, and promote brand loyalty in the guise of offering medical care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)492-500
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Law, Medicine and Ethics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, Inc.


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