Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tom Cruise, Paramount & Drug Companies

I'm not a big fan of Tom Cruise. I've seen several of his movies over the years and they're generally B- or C+ affairs. That said, I'm going to do a little curtain lifting on the recent entertainment news headlines.

You may have read about Tom Cruise's contract being dropped by Paramount Pictures - a Viacom holding. You will find out that his Scientology beliefs are not the cause of his being dropped, but rather a concerted push by pharmaceutical companies whose advertising helps keep Viacom afloat.

Tom Cruise has made Paramount Pictures a lot of money over the years. Somewhere in the vicinity of 2-1/2 billion dollars. Problem for Tom is that's chump change next to the Pharmaceutical industry's expenditures in Viacom, Paramount's owner.

Sumner Redstone and Viacom hold a whole bunch of media interests. To list them all would be tiresome, but they include CBS, MTV, BET and Simon & Schuster, VH1, Comedy Central, hundreds of radio stations across the US, thousands of theatres around the world, Star Trek, Pocket Books...etcetera.

Most all these companies do ADVERTISING. Advertising keeps them in business. Commercials pay for Comedy Central, CBS, Radio stations, MTV et al.

The pharmaceutical industry will spend 3-1/2 billion dollars a YEAR selling drugs to the public via various media franchises. That's more money in a single year than Tom Cruise has made for Paramount in the past 20 years. The pharmaceutical industry doesn't advertise drugs for nothing - they expect a HUGE return. Their 3-1/2 billion dollar investment will reap a big payoff - about 400 billion dollars per annum in retail sales of drugs.

Antidepressants are big business. "Authorities" estimate 15-20 million Americans are clinically depressed every year. Depression is no longer just a mood though - it is now an illness and pharmaceutical companies target everyone from preschoolers to senior citizens for their antidepressant drugs:

Trends in Antidepressant Use1
Release date: May 16, 2005

The percentage of Americans taking antidepressant drugs increased from 5.6 percent in 1997 to 8.5 percent in 2002, according to the most recent government data from the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The data, from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, track prescription drug use among Americans not living in psychiatric hospitals or other institutions or serving in the military. Over-the-counter medicines and free samples were not included in the estimates.

Although antidepressant use was higher in 2002 than in 1997 for women or girls and men or boys, the rate of increase was higher for women or girls.

Antidepressant use by women or girls increased from 7.4 percent to 11.4 during the 5-year period.

Antidepressant use by men or boys increased from 3.8 percent to 5.4 percent.

Antidepressant use for people age 65 and older jumped from 9.3 percent in 1997 to 13.2 percent in 2002.

For people 18-64, the increase was from 6.8 percent to 10.3 percent.

1Trends in Antidepressant Use. AHRQ News and Numbers, May 16, 2005. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/nn/nn051605.htm

As you can see drug companies have made major inroads into their goal of a public who buys a drug for literally everything. Cradle to grave customers of drugs. Antidepressants are the largest part of this "drug everybody" push.

Tom Cruise suggesting antidepressants were bad was like punching Viacom right in the gut. All of Viacom's holdings make their money from pharmaceutical advertising. The more money the drug companies make - the more they spend on commercials, print and radio advertising.

So Tom Cruise's erratic behavior wasn't Scientology - he's been pushing that cult for 20 years and no one blinked. It's only when Tom put Brooke Shields on the spot, after news came out that she wanted to kill her baby, about her antidepressant usage, that Tom seriously ticked off the powers that be.

How dare he? When a media personality talks, a surprisingly large number of folks listen. Tom probably has already cost pharmaceutical companies somewhere in the vicinity of 50-150 million dollars in global sales by folks who either stopped taking antidepressants or who have postponed jumping on the Zolofttm bandwagon.

Sure they have found out that folks on antidepressants, especially kids, become suicidal - but hey, to pharmaceutical companies, suicide is better than being depressed.

Unfortunately, these companies and the FDA don't understand diddly about almost all the drugs they market and promote. Mix a batch of chemicals and then briefly experiment on folks for a few dozen months. They see how the test subjects behave, count the list of side effects see which one can be hyped as a cure.

Raptuurtm - reducing the apparent onset of tourette's syndrome as experienced by rap musicians. Side effects are seizures, impotence, gastronomical disturbances, vomiting, memory loss, depression, headaches, dry mouth and incontinence - but hey, a new drug is born! BILLION$ of the public's dollars are the payoff for what amounts to legal poisoning.

With so little understanding of the brain and its function, they are like children playing with chemical sets. Only these 'kids' have the FDA and the doctors in their pocket, rubber stamping and prescribing stuff that turns out to be deadly.

So Tom, take some advice, as you can see even a "Top Gun" actor's lifetime gross sales are just a drop in the bucket next to the yearly expenditures and power of pharmaceutical companies.

Lifting the curtains on the media is always fun. Hiring the somewhat mentally disturbed Southpark creators was timely cover, to make it look like the conflict was purely about his Scientology beliefs, when in reality it was purely the response to cuts in pharmaceutical advertising all across Viacom's holdings. After Dan Rather's blog-exposed fraudulent news and the lowering value of CBS stock, Paramount - or more properly VIACOM can't afford Tom Cruise anymore. He's now far more expensive to keep than to let go.

Watch for Tom's production company to sign up with some firm with fewer holdings dependant upon pharmaceutical advertising.

So a new word for the media lexicon:
erratic =anti-antidepressants.

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