Advertising is as much a part of pop culture as deliberately created works of art. Here in the United States, one of the most lasting contributions to perceptions of mental illness in society has come courtesy of the pharmaceutical industry, which spends an estimated $2.5 billion annually on reaching the public through advertising. Most people who have televisions or magazine subscriptions in the US have encountered pharmaceutical advertising, sometimes for products so vaguely described and marketed that viewers aren't actually sure what they are for.
A landmark federal bill aiming to put $3 million into research and education about postpartum depression is gathering controversy as it heads to the Senate floor. Advocates of the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act (known as the Mother's Act) say it will save the lives of women and finally help develop decent education about a long-dismissed female health problem. Critics say it will cause more women to take pharmaceuticals unnecessarily. But recently the big debate has been not so much about the bill itself as media coverage of the bill.
Last week, Time ran an article about the Mother's Act which featured an interview with a mother who was prescribed Zoloft after giving birth. The drug made things worse, causing her to have violent fantasies.
Time's story ignited the ire of many who argue that the article intentionally left out pro-Mothers Act voices to push an editorial agenda.
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"Forty-three per cent of American women suffer from female sexual dysfunction. Or do they?" Is "female sexual dysfunction" a real disease? Or is it just a marketing ploy invented by Big Pharma in hopes of profiting from "female Viagra"? These are the questions documentary filmmaker Liz Canner set out to answer in Orgasm, Inc.