On May 12, 2011, a segment aired on The Dr. Oz Show entitled “The 4 Things Drug Companies Don’t Want You To Know.” The piece was about business practices in the pharmaceutical industry that have a lot more to do with earning profits for the shareholders than they do with helping patients. As most of us who’ve encountered the benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome feel that we’ve been harmed by these practices, I was delighted to see the issue getting some coverage on a well-respected mainstream television show. Publicity like this is a good first step.
Sometime in the wee hours between May 12 and 13, once again suffering from benzo withdrawal-induced insomnia, I saw a link to the segment which one of my benzo friends had posted on Facebook. I began watching it, but tiredness finally got the best of me. In the morning, when I tried to resume watching it, Dr. Oz’s site kept giving me the error message “Access Denied.” I didn’t think much of it. It was likely a popular segment and too many people were trying to access it at once … so I told myself. I quickly found out that no one could access it. The segment had been taken down.
From what little I had seen the evening before, it hadn’t been an earth-shattering exposé of Big Pharma. Rather it was mostly just about pharmaceutical industry practices which most of us who are prescription drug-damaged already know about. Still, I was delighted to see the subject being covered where family and friends (many of whom doubt both the benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome and the things I have to say about Big Pharma) might actually get to see it. When I realized that wouldn’t happen, my reactions ranged from outrage to not-terribly-surprised resignation.
Finally realizing that the segment had been yanked, it wasn’t too difficult to imagine a phone call from a large pharmaceutical advertiser to the Fox network’s advertising sales department: “Take it down or we cancel our multi-million dollar advertising campaign with you.” I can’t prove this is what happened, but it’s a perfectly reasonable assumption given the circumstances. Having worked in media and advertising for over 20+ years, I know for a fact that things like this happen.
Determined to see the rest of the segment and, if at all possible, share it, I began looking for the piece elsewhere on the Internet. At first there was nothing. But then, on former pharmaceutical sales rep and current author Gwen Olsen’s Facebook fan page, someone posted download links for it. A friend uploaded them to Veoh. The segment, in two halves, is here and here. If you watch it, feel free to leave comments below.