The business of rebranding

In Nathan Greenslits’ article “Depression and consumption: Psychopharmaceuticals, Branding, and New Identity Practices”, he focuses on how our ideas about mental health are produced by pharmaceutical companies and are inevitably consumed by the public. Throughout the article, he uses the example of Sarafem and how it has been recycled from Prozac (antidepressant) to treat premenstrual dysphonic disorder (PMDD). I want to focus my attention on the section titled “Markets, Molecules, and Meanings”, where he demonstrates that pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in branding their product to match the particular illness as well as rebranding. He does this by showing us that while Sarafem has the same chemical make up as Prozac, the public only associates it with PMDD.  This is important for drug companies to establish as the public would not want to associate depression and PMDD together, therefore a rebranding must occur.

While I have never given branding with respect to pharmaceutical drugs much thought, they have done quite an incredible job. For example, if a physician recommends that I take Viagra for any medical issue I may have that is not related to sexual dysfunction, I would most definitely be skeptical, let alone “shocked and angry” as the article points out. The stigma associated with Viagra is so directly related to sexual dysfunction that if it were assigned for any other medical illness, it would definitely have to be rebranded. Marketing for drugs is an important business, but rebranding must be regarded as equally important as well as the task is quite substantial. 

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