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[whitespace] advert Retail Therapy

By David Boyer

Antidepressant as metaphor, therapeutic benefit as enticement. With half of the industry either on Prozac™ or in need, it was only a matter of time until ad men and women raided their own medicine chests for a little creative inspiration. Still, these funny twists of phrase to hock bikes and shoes seem less harmful than the real thing: savvy marketing of antidepressants and other psychotropics.

Eli Lilly & Co., for example, created a sweepstakes, promising scholarships to a few lucky users of Zyprexa™, their new drug used for schizophrenia. Recently Lilly opened up the competition to all diagnosed schizophrenics, regardless of medication, after receiving pressure from doctors who feared patients would risk the ill effects that can follow a switch in medication just to be eligible for the big prize.

advert According to Lilly, the academic scholarships could help schizophrenics prepare for normal lives. But critics worry that the marketing pitch could lead to unrealistic expectations, because few people with schizophrenia can cope with higher education.

Here's a suggestion: instead of giving away scholarships to boost sales, why not just lower the prices?

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From the April 20-May 3, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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