Most of you have seen the ad. A frowning cartoon bubble walks alone while a gentle voice-over asks if you are feeling depressed, suffer from anxiety, insomnia or any other normal human emotion. The screen flashes Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft or something of the like. Instants later that same pitiful ovoid is now hopping along with a smile on his face meeting up with friends.
Ah the magic of the wonder pill! It can make you popular and happy within seconds of taking it. According to that 30-second television spot anyway. Most of us don’t fall for this sort of advertising. Or do we? Personally, I’m still stuck on the “side effects may include runny nose, exploding hair and/or death.” And those are the only ones I can make out in the spiel of the announcer who was probably trained as an auctioneer.
One of the benefits (or disadvantages, depending on your point of view) of living so close to the States is getting access to American television channels. Along with these though, come a plethora of awful, stereotypical, unending prescription drug ads, especially during prime-time. Why we have to suffer these and yet still can’t watch the Super Bowl ads is beyond me. One of life’s great mysteries I guess.
Canadian laws prevent direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs on television. And for good reason. A new study by the Annals of Family Medicine reveals that these American pharmaceutical ads are over-hyped and, unfortunately, all-too effective.
The study claims Americans watch 16 hours of prescription drug ads every year. Sixteen hours. No wonder these ads are so effective. With that much time spent watching that garbage, I’d want to be drugged up too.
The study also claims that ads portray the drug in question as a miracle pill. One dose and you’re cured! According to the study, “None of these ads explicitly mentioned behavior changes as an alternative to the product. More than 18% of the ads suggested that lifestyle change is insufficient to manage the condition, implying that using the product was a superior alternative. Nineteen percent of the ads suggested that lifestyle change may be an adjunct to using the product.” So you take the pill and ta-dah, you’re the prom queen again, reliving your glory days with Joe the quarterback or Megan the cheerleader. Sounds a bit like Kids in the Hall’s Brain Candy, doesn’t it?
Who cares about getting some exercise or eating an apple every once in a while. Pass the Lipitor!
These days there’s a drug for everything. Balding? Take Rogaine. Sad? Take Prozac. Can’t stop singing “It’s Raining Men”? Well, I’m sure there’s a drug for that too. And probably for those around you also. We now have to take drugs to counter the side effects of all the other pills we’re on.
Welcome to the never-ending cycle of pill-popping. Science has made incredible advances in the treatment of certain diseases. Some lives are immensely improved by prescription medication. But there is a thin line between legitimately helping disabled individuals and forcing unnecessary medication down the public’s throat, so to speak.