Side Effects - The Movie
Exposes how the drug industry abuses Americans
us review some of the facts about the
pharmaceutical industry in America (Americans
consume the highest amount of prescription drugs
in the world):
In 2002, the
combined profits (not revenues) for the ten
drug companies in the Fortune 500 ($35.9
billion) were more than the profits for all
the other 490 businesses combined ($33.7
pharmaceutical industry spends twice as much
on Marketing as it does on Research and
Development (R&D), a minimum of $25
BILLION per year! No wonder you see so
many ads on television for drugs.
pharmaceutical industry spends more on
lobbying than any other industry. In
fact for every representative that you have in
Washington, there are two lobbyists from the
drug industry alone.
The conduct of
the drug industry has come under a lot of scrutiny since
the recall of dangerous drugs like Vioxx and Bextra that
have killed tens of thousands of Americans. While
consumer groups have demanded recalls of other drugs like Viagra
but the pressure from pharma companies was so strong that
FDA has refused to act.
now you can see with your own eyes the inner
workings of the pharma companies in a
"Side Effects." In "Side Effects", filmmaker Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau has turned her ten years' experience as a
sales rep for a top drug company into a darkly funny – and enlightening -- feature film starring
Katherine Heigl ("Grey's Anatomy").
Side Effects" reveals the techniques that
drug companies use to market their products to
physicians. “Even the medical community has had
limited knowledge as to what is really going on
behind the scenes of these companies,” Slattery-Moschkau
notes. “It was important to me to raise
awareness with both doctors and patients.”
says, “For ten years, as a drug rep, almost
daily I experienced the comical marketing tactics
of the industry, as well as their dangerous
pursuit of profits that can, and have, come at the
expense of patients' lives.” Slattery-Moschkau
finally left the industry. “It was very
difficult,” she recalls, “because the money
and perks are so seductive, but eventually I
couldn't look in the mirror any longer.”
writer/director felt, however, that she needed to share
her knowledge and experience with the world. “I chose to
as a story instead of a documentary,” she notes,
“because I thought I could reach a wider audience that
way. I felt that through fiction I could get people to
laugh, be shocked, and get educated at the same time.”
In the film, Karly Hert, played by
Heigl, is a young woman struggling with
romance, ethics, and
her career in the drug industry.
Attracted to the perks and benefits of working for a drugmaker, Karly is oblivious to her own value system until she meets Zach Danner (Lucian McAfee), a down-to-earth guy who challenges Karly to think clearly about what she's doing with her life – both personally and professionally.
Karly, encouraged by Zach, begins seeing her job more clearly, defying direction from upper management and employee handbooks, and does her work with a fresh twist – honesty. As she candidly begins revealing the true effects of her company's miracle drugs, irony takes hold, and her sales numbers go through the roof. Suddenly, Karly is reaping even greater benefits, and is lured back into the corporate machine.
While the company grooms Karly for
a top management position, she discovers some explicitly unethical marketing practices that are jeopardizing patient safety. She is faced again with ethical choices, but remembers her ultimate goal is the same as the corporation's, “to protect and prolong human life.” The film ends with Karly resolving her ethical dilemma – one way or the other!
Slattery-Moschkau filmed the entire production on a budget of $190,000, in Madison, Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and children, A “closet writer,” she jotted down some of her astonishing experiences while in the industry on “stickie notes.” Eventually, she had a whole pile of them, and “the script practically wrote itself.”