Hitting The Nightly News Where It Really Hurts

Forget the ratings death spiral.  That’s nothing.

In what perhaps could be the mother of all unintended consequences, Senator Al Franken proposes to attach an amendment to the Senate version of the health care bill that would disallow the tax deduction of all marketing and advertising expenses of prescription drugs.

Several comments:

  1. I don’t necessarily disagree with this, as the notion of an individual getting all the necessary information about a prescription drug from a 30-second TV ad is ridiculous.  The reason drugs are prescribed, as opposed to purchased over the counter, is because physicians and pharmacists have the requisite knowledge that can’t be obtained from a commercial featuring a buzzing bee.
  2. As mentioned before, there are likely unintended consequences.  The reduction of marketing costs (achieved by eliminating their deductibility) could actually help the pharmaceutical industry.  The reason is that research has shown that direct-to-consumer advertising by drug companies has been a total waste of money.  By eliminating the deductibility, drug companies are likely to eliminate that part of their business, which will reduce costs, have no adverse effect on sales, thereby boosting profits.
  3. This will kill the networks’ nightly news programs.  One of liberals’ most valuable allies is the mainstream media.  This would kill a huge revenue source of theirs.
  4. You’ll once again be able to watch a sporting event with your kids and not have to worry about them asking questions about Viagra and Cialis.

Like I said, I don’t see much downside here, unless you’re in the marketing and advertising industry.  Nevertheless, there is a certain unfairness here.  I mean, why pick on just the drug companies.  There are other decisions consumers make every day.  Those decisions are influenced by advertisements that simply cannot disclose all of the different aspects of that decision in 30 seconds.  So here is what I think you should do.  Apply the exact same tax deduction disallowance rule that Franken proposes to other professions — especially lawyers.

— uo

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Published in: on November 10, 2009 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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