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TV Drug Ads Hard to Swallow

Brett Davis

Posted on January 28, 2019 01:52

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Much like the infomercial craze of the 1990s, television advertisements for prescription drugs currently dominate the boob tube (but with better acting). These pharmaceutical commercials may be a success in terms of marketing, but they tend to leave the average viewer confused and horrified.

Anyone who has plopped themselves in front of the idiot box for any length of time realizes TV is pushing drugs in the form of ubiquitous medication commercials. Like a lot of things about America right now, these paid announcements are not so much informative as they are baffling and frightening. (According to this writer’s research – that is, Googling it – the United States and New Zealand are the only two nations that permit direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising.)

Unrelated Activity
It’s a staple of these small-screen ads to have the people in them engaging in a number of activities that have no discernible connection to the remedies being shilled for conditions such as acid reflux, high cholesterol, impotence and so on. Think fixing a car, gardening, horseback riding, taking part in multi-racial gatherings and, of course, soaking in outdoor bathtubs for him and her, because apparently that’s a thing. Who knew?

Also, a lot of this is depicted in slow motion. Slow motion is apparently very important in setting the right mood to get you to consider asking your doctor about a pill to combat, say, insomnia, which probably means you’re up late at night watching TV when a lot of these drug ads air. It’s a vicious cycle.

Allergic to Logic
Perhaps most mystifying of all are the drug ads that warn you not to take the drug in question if you are allergic to it. Seriously, who is this warning for?

Presumably if you are aware you are allergic to said medication, you know not to take it. Likewise, this warning is inapplicable to people who have never taken the drug and don’t know if they are or aren’t allergic to it.

This admonishment is literally useless, which can mean only one thing: It’s a legal requirement put in by lawyers afraid drug companies would be sued by anyone experiencing an allergic reaction to their drugs.

Side Effects
Without question, the hallmark of these commercials are the litany of potential side effects that range from the mild (dry mouth) to the incredibly serious (sudden death).

The problem, of course, is no odds are provided on the chances of these various side effects happening. A high probability of dry mouth is something you can live with; whereas even a 50-50 chance of sudden death is something you cannot live with, maybe literally.

Bottom Line: Ask Your Doctor
If the idea that your TV is basically an electronic drug dealer makes you sick or the thought of patients demanding specific drugs (as opposed to doctors prescribing them) causes you mental anguish, talk to your doctor. There’s probably a pill for that.

For more mockery of America’s bizarre drug commercials, see here, here and here.

Brett Davis

Posted on January 28, 2019 01:52

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Source: NYT
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Posts advertising the sale of illegal drugs were featured on Facebook's new Marketplace tab on Monday.

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