I’d love to be able to skip commercials when I watch TV but we only have an antenna so there’s no way to record and zoom past the darned things. In the middle of a sleepless night I realized there had been 4 ads for various prescription drugs in just over an hour. Two things struck me about these commercials. They all have hideous side effects and every one of them tells us to “Ask your doctor about…”
Ask your doctor about…
It seems like a simple phrase but aren’t the pharmaceutical companies really telling us to become unpaid sales representatives for their products? They bombard us with their ads for drugs that are supposed to clear up our skin, lower our blood sugar, prolong our lives, and fix our sex lives. In return for their incessant marketing they want us to tell our doctors to prescribe the drugs that they’re selling. What? Not even a break on the price if you ask your doctor about…?
And it’s not just that the drug companies expect us to wheedle our doctors into prescribing these medications without compensating us. It’s the side effects that really caught my attention. I realize that psoriasis can be hard to live with but I don’t think I’d trade clearer skin for cancer. There’s the drug that promises “the chance for a longer life” to cancer patients but one of the side effects (possible both during and after treatment) is death. Isn’t that what they’re telling us they can put off for us? If the drug that is supposed to prolong life ends up killing us isn’t that false advertising?
…the possible side effects.
I put together a list of the “possible side effects” mentioned during my sleepless night of viewing prescription medication commercials (infrequently and briefly interrupted by really bad old television shows).
Nervous system problems
Low tire pressure
Fractures of the femur
Loss of height
Changes in eye color (just one eye)
Loss of Facebook password
Swollen armpit hair
And why in the world is death always last on their lists? Shouldn’t death be kind of a red flag for those of us the drug company is telling “Ask your doctor about…?” It’s bad enough that if I take an antibiotic for an upper respiratory infection that I’m risking a broken femur months later! But death? I think all these ads should begin with this disclaimer:
“This overpriced, under-researched drug has been known to kill people. In fact our human test subjects dropped like flies. But thanks to the money we make getting suckers like you to ask your doctor about which he/she will prescribe we can afford to bribe not only your doctor but the F.D.A. Sure the cost of our pills is high but trips to Aruba for people who could stop us from selling the pills doesn’t come cheap!”
Then they could play some hopeful tune while a list of all the other side effects scrolled up the screen for the remaining 45 seconds. “Tomorrow, tomorrow, you’ll drop dead tomorrow, ‘cuz that is our drug scam way.”
So remember, folks, ask your doctor about… Because your early death is a penny earned for the pharmaceutical companies!
Image of armpit via The Huffington Post