Give a man a fish and feed him for a day....Teach him to use the internet and he won't bother you for weeks!
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Ask Your Doctor
Although not that important of a resource in my daily quest to stay on top of current events, I still find myself watching the networks' evening newscasts when the opportunity allows. Recently, I've noticed that ads for drugs I've never heard of or needed seem to be crowding out most of the other advertisers. The other night, if you count ads for vitamins as part of the whole pharmaceutical ad trend, it was 20 minutes into a 30 minute show until another type of product made an appearance.
Despite my trigger finger ability to hit the mute button, I'm still occasionally amazed at the potential side effects that seem worse than the original problem. They are one step away from delivering these lists at the speed of the old FedEx Fast Talker , hoping that we won't notice or object to "increased urges to gamble", or "excessive sexual urges" or my personal favorite "erections lasting longer that four hours". Apparently in this context, these are all bad things.
I like the parody site for Havidol, which warns of side-effects including "mood changes, muscle strain, extraordinary thinking, dermal gloss, impulsivity induced consumption, excessive salivation, hair growth, markedly delayed sexual climax, inter-species communication, taste perversion, terminal smile, and oral inflammation." Yea, sign me right up.
Hopefully (but not likely) any attempt to address health care reform will include some way to reign in this double barreled assault on doctors and consumers. Aggressive marketing targeted at physicians combined with equally aggressive advertising to influence potential customers to "ask your doctor" for their products passes undue costs to end users. These kind of direct to patient ads have more than quintupled from $700 million in 1997 to more than $4 billion in 2004. Only one other country in the western world allows this kind marketing to exist; most others leave the decision to the professionals.
One unintended consequence of this trend is that the din of advertising risks becoming white noise. A possible example of this took place the other night when the wife and I were watching the news. A commercial for Cialis was playing and my wife said "That's what our next-door neighbor Mike takes". I was a bit taken back and just responded with an attempt at an understated "Really?" Inside, I was doing a slow burn and thinking perhaps we were a bit TOO friendly with the neighbors. After an uncomfortable silence where many bad scenarios ran through my head, I finally had to ask "How the HELL does that come in in polite conversation?" She said that his doctor put him on it to bring his cholesterol down. Much relieved, I explained that the drug in question had more to do with things going up than down, she responded with an Emily Litella-like "never mind" then.