Comic books. Lesson plans. How drug companies target kids
The makers of medical products are finding subtle and sophisticated new ways to target kids — a demographic that can bring them hefty profits now, and could grow up to be loyal, even more lucrative, adult customers.
Drug and device companies have been trying to reach kids for decades, but a STAT examination has found that these efforts are taking new forms. Medical companies are bankrolling classroom lesson plans and comic books, hosting events with costumed characters, and promoting smartphone apps. It’s all aimed at teaching children and teens about certain health conditions — conditions for which there just happen to be treatments marketed by the companies sponsoring the outreach.
Companies frame their efforts as a service to kids. But they also bring benefits to the company: Children might ask their parents for a certain medicine just as they would a cereal brand. And kids are valuable customers. The percentage of American children and teens taking prescription drugs has stayed fairly steady over the past two decades, but insurance companies are forking over more money for their pills.