Drug Companies

October 23, 2000

Now that the presidential debates are history, it might be instructive to look back at some of the exaggerations. No one expects a candidate to get all the facts right all of the time. But a few statements could easily be called whoppers.

Some of the obvious candidates would be Al Gore's statement about the girl in Sarasota, Florida who had to stand during class because there weren't enough chairs. It turns out that the day the picture was taken, about $100,000 worth of lab equipment was delivered. And you have his statements about visiting Texas with the director of FEMA and the mention of the woman picking up cans. Although some in the press made a big deal about this, I think these were minor infractions compared to the one that concerns me the most.

This whopper came during the third debate and has the potential of harming the image of pharmaceutical companies. Why Al Gore has decided to go after drug companies, I don't know. But his misstatement of the facts certainly could hurt public perception of them.

He claimed that pharmaceutical companies "are now spending more money on advertising and promotion you see in all these ads than they are on research and development." Well, fact checkers point out that this is completely false.

The Kaiser Family Foundation found that in 1998, the pharmaceutical industry spent between $5.8 billion and $8.3 billion on advertising and promotion, and $21 billion on research and development. In other words, they spend three times as much on research as they do on advertising. Mr. Gore is free to attack drug companies, but he is not free to make up statistics to paint them in a bad light.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.