Abilify explains America in a nutshell


This probably won’t be a very long post, but I still think it’s somewhat interesting/relevant. First off, I’m somewhat depressed a good deal of the time, although I don’t take any drugs for it. (I have been to therapy off and on for probably over a decade now.) That said, a lot of people close to me do take antidepressants, and as a result, I know something (albeit not a lot) about them. When I come across articles about the stuff, I always read ’em; health care is the future of America, especially as “The Boomers” age, and way more people are depressed than we ever really want to discuss. (And we tend to stigmatize depression, although that’s a whole different post for another day.)

But here’s the interesting thing: one drug basically explains the American ethos. Let me elaborate.

Abilify is now the No. 1 selling drug in America; from October 2013 to September 2014, it made about $7.5 billion. If you’ve never heard of Abilify or anything, watch this:

Here’s the problem, though: The Daily Beast (which I used to read all the time and now never do, which is also another topic) did a review of the literature around Abilify. Basic takeaway: the drug is effective, but no one really knows exactly how it works or what it does. A legitimate medical research paper on false advertising in Pharma and “disease mongering” (which sounds awful) also pointed out that most of the advertising/marketing about Abilify references that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin (somewhat true…), and that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can normalize depression (getting foggier…), but the problem is, that’s not aligned with any peer-reviewed literature or FDA-approved product information (shit).

Alright, so walk through this with me:

  • A company puts out a drug.
  • The advertising and marketing are vague.
  • The drug seems to work well, but no one (even medical professionals) seem to know exactly what it does.
  • Americans buy billions of dollars worth of it.

That seem a bit odd?


In fact, it explains America — and pretty much every job I’ve ever had — in a nutshell:

  • Problem exists.
  • People want to make money from solving the problem.
  • People aren’t sure how to approach the problem, but still want that money.
  • People say some vague shit and call it “marketing” (it’s not really)
  • Consumers are too busy to actually research stuff and need their problem solved, so they buy it
  • People make money based on something that no one really understands

I was talking with my friend’s wife a few days ago — she has a small business for moms to buy books for their kids — and she does some 1-on-1 consults with moms about reading techniques. American moms like to read the book straight through — knock it out, basically — without necessarily stopping for context or vocabulary or comprehension. (Generalization, but broadly held.) Foreign moms are a little better on stopping to check and provide context.

Kind of a long way of saying: Americans see a problem, they want to fix it (and make money!) or get it fixed (by paying money!). No one really knows what the fuck is actually going on, but billions of dollars are getting exchanged, so, hey, we’re all good here, right?

Ted Bauer