By Martha Rosenberg
March 16, 2010
It is not too hard to find evidence of links between WebMD and drug giant Eli Lilly.
A 2002 article on the gigantic medical site about pain and depression says “Lilly is a WebMD Partner,” and an advertising award in 2004 went to the FCB “client” Eli Lilly & Co./WebMD—not clients.
Banner and skyscraper ads for Lilly’s blockbuster antidepressant Cymbalta on WebMD’s home page never seemed to yield to other advertisers in 2009, and the Washington Post reported Lilly and WebMD to be partners in 2000.
Now Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating financial ties between Lilly and WebMD Health Corp. because of a WebMD TV ad exhorting people to undergo a Lilly depression screening.
You can joke about the need to tell people they are depressed—do people need to be told they have a headache—but pharma’s screening ruse to recruit new patient pools for the volatile drugs among teens, adolescents, and new mothers is not funny.
Three thousand five hundred news articles about antidepressants linked to violence appear on the Web site SSRIstories.com, including 700 murders, 200 murder-suicides, 51 school shooting incidents, and 54 postpartum depression cases since 1989.
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