Pharmaceuticals… It’s all about advertising, not R & D.

These two recent articles highlight some of the ironies of our hobbled healthcare system. On the one hand, pharmaceutical companies are spending record amounts on advertising–mostly targeted directly at doctors and consumers. The biggest spender, Johnson & Johnson, shelled out $17.5 billion on sales and marketing in 2013, compared with $8.2 billion for R&D.

One the other hand, doctors –via The American Medical Association– on Tuesday called for a ban on advertising prescription drugs and medical devices directly to consumers, saying the ads drive patients to demand expensive treatments over less costly ones that are also effective.