How Big Pharma Convinces Parents to Drug Their Kids

Boy holding deadly prescription drugs.

It’s no mystery to any parent that raising kids is a challenge. Any parent will throw their right hand up and testify, “Yes, raising my kids comes with challenges.” At any of the various ages from childhood to adolescence to teen years to young adulthood, our sons and daughters will manifest all kinds of phenomena like:

  • Hyper-active personality traits
  • Slowed abilities to learn
  • Truancy
  • Attitude problems
  • Communication difficulties
  • Rebelliousness and a difficulty to stick with the rules

These are just a smattering of what parents have to work with on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes, saying it is a “challenge” is a bit of an understatement. But does that mean that we should actually drug our kids? The pharmaceutical companies would say absolutely yes.

Unethical Marketing Techniques Convince Parents that Drugs are the Answer

Pharmaceutical companies use unethical marketing campaigns designed to convince parents to medicate their kids, regardless of their ages. Big Pharma has advertising to promote using powerful, mind-altering pharmaceuticals on sons and daughters anywhere from adult age all the way back to infancy. Yes, that’s right, Big Pharma is trying to convince parents that even their infant sons and daughters have mental disorders or physiological problems and that they need meds to supposedly “solve the problems.”

Little child covered with drugs.

Pharmaceutical giants have succeeded in convincing parents that their kids’ “difficulties” are not just the normal processes of growing up, but that these are “actual medical conditions only treatable through the use of pharmaceuticals.” And to drive the point home, pharmaceutical giants use fear to really scare parents into believing them, saying things like, “Your son or daughter’s condition will only get worse if you don’t medicate them now.”

We’ve all heard and seen the ads. The ads where a pharmaceutical giant starts by listing the symptoms, symptoms which just about everyone feels once in awhile, then listing the ways that “x” drug can help alleviate those symptoms. Then, at the very end of the ad, the advertising announcer spews out a long list of side effects. Sometimes the list of side effects takes up more ad space than the actual promotion of the drug itself does! And more often than not, death is one of the listed, possible side effects. But advertisers use fear, fear of an “illness” as a way to get parents to buy into a need to medicate their kids regardless of the very obvious risks attendant.

What is even more concerning about these marketing techniques is that they are extremely light on the scientific details, the costs of the drug, the research to back the drug up, and how likely those side effects are to occur. They are also extremely lacking in explaining to parents if the drugs are even effective or not, which they often aren’t.

Reducing Manipulative and Untruthful Promotion of Pharmaceuticals

When foreigners visit the United States, they often remark at how forcefully the American pharmaceutical giants advertise prescription drugs. In fact, it is customary in other countries to ban pharmaceutical ads, yet this is not the case in America.

It is long past due that we stop the blatant over-advertising and fabrication of pharmaceutical drugs in the media as being a “solution” for anything. Pharmaceutical drugs are not a solution for anything.

We can actually do something about this by insisting that pharmaceutical marketing is banned across all media channels. This would not actually be that grandiose a request, as almost all other countries have already done this.

However we go about it, something has to change so that parents are not being constantly sold this concept that they are terrible parents if they do not medicate their children.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.