Thursday, April 18, 2013

Games and players



Recently, some of you may have seen ads for "Fresh & Sexy," a new product on the market with somewhat provocative ads. Basically, they're "intimate wipes," to be used for frantically wiping off your naughty bits in situations where you're filthy, and desperately need to clean up before getting laid.

Now, I personally have to question the need for this product, at least in civilized societies. The majority of us bathe regularly, and hopefully don't need such items. A friend of mine commented that if she were "in a situation where I was that disgustingly filthy, like a long camping trip away from water, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have the wipes with me. Or be near a store where I could buy them." By the same token, societies where regular bathing is rare are unlikely to carry "Fresh & Sexy" in local stores.

There's also the point that people have been banging each other for roughly 2 million years, of which only the last 100 or so have seen regular washing. So filth, and the absence of "intimate wipes," has never stopped them for >99.9% of human history.

But this is modern marketing. Necessity is no longer the mother of invention. Nowadays, instead of making a product that people actually need, it's easier to make a product, then convince people they need it. It's how P. T. Barnum got rich.

The same trend is in pharmaceuticals. There are a lot of drugs that are legitimately useful, but some companies try to create drugs we don't need, then hope to convince us we do.

Let's take the fictitious drug Ophelicia, which is an overpriced knock-off of a cheap generic, polonicoxib.
 

R&G pharmaceuticals (the original manufacturer of both) knows their aging drug has been used off-label* for a boatload of stuff, and its profitable patent life is running out. So they're sinking research dollars into getting more indications for it, rather than, say, a new drug that might benefit people.
 

Sometimes you get a REALLY painful hangnail. It hurts more if you accidentally bang your finger on something, you can't pick your nose with it, and start screaming if Purell or salsa get on it.

There are MANY dirt-cheap generic drugs, such as polonicoxib, that can be used for a hangnail, all reasonably effective.

R&G, smelling a market opening, sinks a few hundred million bucks into getting Ophelicia OFFICIALLY FDA APPROVED for hangnail pain. Granted, their data didn't show it was any more effective than the 20 cheap generics out there, but now their sales reps can proudly say "We are the ONLY drug with an FDA approval for this debilitating condition."

Unfortunately, there aren't enough people with painful hangnails to make this indication financially worthwhile. Besides, any insurance company will force you to try 5 cheap generics before they'll let you think about prescribing Ophelicia and it's $20/day price tag (I agree with them).

BUT it adds to the razzle-dazzle. Your average doctor will figure it has so many indications for pain, it must be good for anything, and grab it off the shelf without trying a generic. It's much easier to hand someone a bottle of samples than it is to write a script (R&G knows this. Why do you think the companies give away all those samples?). If the patient is hooked, maybe they'll pay for it. Or the doctor will find it easier to have her staff fill out a pre-authorization form than call in for some cheap polonicoxib. After all, it's not her problem.

This gets back to the need for intimate wipes: Is it really there in modern societies? Probably not. But there isn't a need for a drug that's specifically indicated for hangnail pain, either. It's the game, and R&G and their competitors are simply players looking for an edge.


The key to selling is marketing, and the gold standard of marketing is making people think they need something that they don't.


*Prescribing it for something other than what the official FDA rules say you should use it for. This is very common. Odds are that you've taken something off-label.

25 comments:

Sara / Aryanhwy said...

Nowadays, instead of making a product that people actually need, it's easier to make a product, then convince people they need it.

As Mitchell and Webb so charmingly illustrate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHI01BbtwZs
(starting at 2:19).

LW said...

nice beaver!

Jane Spencer said...

Thanks, I had it stuffed.

Titan Mk6B said...

The beaver picture is perfect for this post in so many ways.

Anonymous said...

Sales pitches scoop in lots of folks with anxieties, phobias, and even dementia. I know folks and have relatives who believe they need these items because "they" say so.

Frustrated at Pharma

Griffin3 said...

But that doesn't work so so great, dollarwise. The next step is to bribe a bureaucrat (which actually come much cheaper than politicians) and get a black-box warning issued for polonicoxib. Same for all the "generally recognized as safe" alternatives, like aspirin or talcum powder [*see Prop 65 warning]. All the docs afraid of the liability risks involved with prescribing black-box medication, you can proceed directly to the next step
...
Profit$!$

Nurse Nasty said...

I don't know about this product being a true necessity but I think it could come in handy at times.

Sure, people have been reproducing for ages but sex is a lot different now compared to hundreds of years ago. I can't say for sure since I wasn't born yet, but I would imagine oral sex was a lot less common before soap and water became so readily available. Nowadays we don't just insert tab A into slot B. When I put anything in my mouth, whether it be food, a toothbrush, or a penis, I would like it to be as clean as possible.

Maybe our current society is just a bunch of obsessive clean freaks but even though I shower every morning and every evening I would still use this if I had been out dancing in a crowded bar or had been outside in 90 degree weather for a few hours and had no opportunity to take a shower before sex.

Anonymous said...

I have to tell someone: the beaver has orange incisors. (I think the porcupine does as well, but you didn't post a porcupine picture)

Laertecoxib said...

I feel so left out.

Brent said...

A little boy comes in to the Dr.s office for a kindergarden PE. After the physical, the doc asks mom if she has any questions. At this point, the 5 year old starts tugging on his mom's shirt and frantically asking "can I ask him now Mom, can I ask him now?"

Mom, unsure (and a bit flustered as to what Jr. so desperately wants to ask the Dr. says "yes, go ahead. What do you want to ask the Dr.?"

the little boy replies, "I want to ask my Dr. if viagra is right for me."

Packer said...

Marketing , kind of like drawing everyone in talking about sex winding through the history of hygiene then and end up ptting everyone to sleep with talk about off label drug use. Good job, Grumpy, I am now taking an aspirin, not for a heart attack but for the off label headache use.

brent said...

WARNING: beavers would sooner kill you...


http://www.adn.com/2013/04/12/2862207/warning-beavers-would-sooner-kill.html#storylink=rss#wgt=rss

Just Me said...

Dr Grumpy, you forgot the bit where the brand name drug manufacturer pays the generic company to not make the drug. It's enough to make you want to create a drug company to be paid to do nothing.

bobbie said...

To: LW & Jane Spencer ~

Now I must clean up the coffee I just spit all over my computer...

Hmmm ~ wonder if the wipes would work for that, too ~

OldSquid said...

The same could be said for the vitamin/ supplement industry.

a.generic doc said...

If the ads work, will teenage boys have to buy bigger wallets to carry both a crushed condom and a sex wipe?

Old MD Girl said...

I think they're for cleaning up *after* the lay, not before.

Cat said...

Hmm.. sexy wipes have a place. we are not, as a society, a used to the arrays of body odors our bodies produce... but that aside... as a woman.. I'll be the first to admit that not all days are the same. Some days I stay "fresh" all day, and others... other days the, um, natural secretions build up in a slightly less appealing way. And somedays, I have a little more yeast then usual (which results in secretions that are 'sticky' and linger, rather then reabsorbing as neatly. There's little rhyme or reason to the variations of the body, just that variations exist. And some days, a little bit of a 'sexy wipe down' before sexy times ensue wouldn't be unwelcome... of course, they also make toilet paper.

Anonymous said...

Eager Beaver

Anonymous said...

In the veterinary industry, we cannot use a drug off-label if there is any drug in existence labeled for the same purpose. Horse dewormer and Heartgard are both Ivermectin, but I can't legally tell you how to use horse dewormer to prevent heartworm disease, because Heartgard is labeled for this purpose. In Canada, I could. FDA rules are often stoopid.

Loren Pechtel said...

Your female friend doesn't sound like someone who belongs in the back country. You think about what you're going to need before you leave home! There are no stores on the trail.

(Although I have had someone try to buy a camera battery off me a couple of miles up a mountain from the trailhead.)

Steeny Lou said...

Laertecoxib: Nice catch on the Hamlet references!

Dr. Grumpy: Nice usage of them.

And Dr. Grumpy, I wish you'd start a Facebook page so we can "like" and comment under other peoples comments! :)

Bobbi said...

Amen to Facebook!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Might we be referring to Horizant and whatever that new gabapentin patch is called (Neupro?)?

Anonymous said...

What's the bet the Intimate Wipes give you vaginal candidiasis, and are manufactured by one of the companies that make candidiasis therapies?

 
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