Just how gullible are the American people? Pretty damn gullible as I see it. Marketing companies have created whole new volumes of techniques to foist their products on people. The sad part is that these marketing techniques actually work.

I first became aware of this market making phenomena some time ago as I considered the television adverstising of feminine hygiene products. Now I will admit as freely as anyone that a woman , unwashed and unshowered for three weeks, is not the most delicate fragrance I’ve ever sniffed, but in fairness the same can be said, and more so, of a number of men. In fact, the time delay for men is about one day from unshowered to positively stinky. However, with the application of a regular course of hygiene (pay attention France), there is nothing overtly more smelly about a woman than a man. I am aware that some women are subject to unwanted excretions (or—as my daughter says—juices), but panty liners deal with that quite effectively. Why any woman needs to purchase a crotch deodorant is beyond me. Most of the deodorants smell much worse than ‘au natural’ and probably are mutagenic and carcinogenic as well. If there is a smell, it’s probably because of an infection and she needs an antibiotic not a perfume. So clearly, the television ads increase the self consciousness of an insecure person, about a mostly non-existent problem, and create a market. About $69 million annually according to Checkout.

So it is clearly possible to invent markets out of whole cloth. What is truly annoying is when drug companies attempt to sell their useless drugs by creating diseases using these selfsame marketing techniques.

Which brings us to Glaxo Smith-Kline. Seems as if they have a drug which was developed for Parkinson’s Disease but didn’t really meet the efficacy standards imposed by the FDA. There was an interesting effect however – the drug suppresses the “tingles’ that occasionally occur in muscles. So how does one recoup the millions of dollars of development expenses for a drug which doesn’t work? Create a new disease or syndrome, one which conveniently can be cured by the very drug under consideration. Voila: Restless Leg Syndrome. Next, lobby and get the FDA to approve the drug for the new syndrome. Create and fund a support group. Eventually, there will even be a natural vegan/organic solution. You’ve made it to the big time. Now you have created a multi-million dollar market for your screw-up.

And the American people (and Europeans also, it appears), actually buy into this. Astounding!

So the next television commerical you encounter – press that MUTE button. Skip over the ads in newspapers, and when someone presents you with an offer to buy something you just have to have, resist. But before all that, for God’s sake, clean out that medicine cabinet!