Four out of five doctors recommend…

…telling them what’s wrong with you instead of just asking for drugs by name. The fifth was too busy practicing medicine to pay attention to the question.

That’s something that’s been chewing on my ass for a while: television ads for prescription drugs. America and New Zealand are the only countries that allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise with such impunity, and there have been political rumblings for several years that the overly permissive attitude towards these commercials is about to change, so I should probably go ahead and rip on them while they’re still airing.

Depression is sort of like constantly being throttled by a team of angry, yet well-organized leprechauns, but somehow you can’t muster the energy to care enough to stop them. So if you’re depressed, take this drug! We think it works like this: (cue muzak eerily similar to “We Didn’t Start the Fire,”)

Not entirely unlike Pong, but sadder, and with the potential for suicide.

"See, there are these red dealies in yer brain that bounce little *teeny tiny* pellets at each other, like 'PEW PEW PEW,' and what we think the pill does, is it goes in there and says 'HEY YOU QUIT DOIN THAT SO MUCH' and they do, and you, man, you're all shiny rainbows and fuzzy puppies again."

Fantastic, right? But… tell your doctor right away if it actually makes you more depressed, because that happens. Often enough that we have to tell you upfront. Oh, and if you start thinking about killing yourself, your doctor should know about that too, because it’s actually just a side effect. Since we told you about it, your family can’t sue. Yeah, and while we’re on the topic, once you start taking it, don’t ever stop, unless your doctor has told you to. Because.

Do you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or had you heard of it before this commercial?  Well, you are in luck, because this drug improves lung function in patients with COPD!

Somehow.

Stage one: Anti inflammatory!. Stage three: Lung function!

Our leading theory right now is that it has something to do with microscopic "lung gnomes." And bronchodilators (which is a doctor-word for "wee little pickaxes").

In the meantime, until it helps you (it very well may not help for several weeks, if at all), continue using it twice a day (for the love of God, only twice) in addition to your regular rescue inhaler (which this product is not) unless you develop osteoporosis (which happens when the lung gnomes get confused and start harvesting calcium from the bones), eye problems (which are a common side effect… of… lung medicine) or pneumonia (people get that all the time from inhalers; look it up).

Don’t have COPD, but you do have asthma? We’ve got just the thing for that, but it’s no ordinary inhaler. No, sir! This dandy little number is bursting at the seams with medicinal power! So much power, in fact, that it may actually help your asthma kill you! That’s right, this brutal blend of pump-action asthma-whippin’ lung juice increases your risk of asthma-related death! Because we at AstraZeneca believe that modern medicine should be more like Thunderdome; you either beat the condition into submission and make it your bitch or it finishes you off with a quick blow to the larynx.

In this scenario, the medicine is a flamethrowing chainsaw dangled from the top of the dome. Except it can't kill the asthma.... for some reason.

That's you in the middle about to whip Asthma's ass, with our help. Unless, of course, Asthma gets the inhaler away from you and shoves it up your ass. If that happens, you're boned. But it... probably won't.

Are you suffering from chronic, incurable pain, in addition to a strong desire to suffer from new and exciting drug-induced maladies? Try using this, or any number of drugs in the NSAID family! Before we get to the benefits, you should know that they can cause serious skin reactions, stomach and intestinal bleeding and ulcers, and completely wreck both your liver and entire cardiovascular system. But don’t worry about that, because “the FDA stated that for certain patients, the benefits outweigh the risks,” and-guess what?-this drug “has never been taken off the market!” That’s the ringingest endorsement anyone can give anything!

Where other companies just lump in all their small print in a block at the end of the commercial, we not only spend most of the two and a half minute run time of the ad talking about the things that can go horribly awry, but the entire ad is composed of fine print arranged to form shapes!

Because a fine print rhombus would be too much for the viewing public to handle.

Like a man, his home, his lawn, his entire neighborhood and a mailman thrown in for good measure. Later, a dog catches a frisbee. Fun.

The one thing all the pharmacology ads seem to have in common is the implication that doctors just don’t know what the hell they’re doing. If you were stupid enough to go into a doctor’s office and just tell them what’s wrong without asking for a specific drug by name, why, they’d probably just slaughter some chickens and wave burning sticks over you while chanting and dancing around. Later, you’d wake up naked and groggy in a back alley somewhere, feeling no less sick, but infinitely more violated. No, no, you’re much better off being diagnosed by a device of mass marketing, then treating your doctor like a glorified pharmacy technician; “This is the condition I have, these are the drugs I need. Give them to me now.”

Then there are the side effects. Really, they’re like the pharmacological equivalent of buying a cell phone so you can stay in touch with your friends, except that it sometimes turns on your oven and burns down the house. Or, if you prefer to be literal, it’s like taking a pill to stop your leg from twitching, and gaining an overwhelming urge to gamble and engage in deviant sex in the process.

Even assuming that it is responsible to allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise just like any other corporate entity despite the fact that they’re in the business of selling products that shouldn’t be recommended by anyone without an extensive background in medicine because of the risks inherent in their use, the costs to run these ads are written off by the pharmaceutical companies, meaning that taxpayers are effectively subsidizing the right to be turned into hypochondriacs because the drug companies are telling us everything that’s wrong with us, and how they can make it more manageable through the perpetual consumption of their product.

Even barring that, it’s ridiculous to pawn these ads off under the guise of ‘informing and educating’ the population. Advertisement does not equal education last I checked, and as far as information from a manufacturer is concerned… I’d really rather not ask Pepsico how good Pepsi tastes: I doubt the review will be anything short of glowing.

Aaand even if you forget those points, the goal of the advertisements is to push the newest drugs on the market; the ones that haven’t endured as much long-term testing. Why is that bad? Have you ever seen the other commercials? The ones asking if you or a loved one has suffered certain terrible conditions after using a specific drug, because they’re gearing up for a huge class-action settlement? Because those occur after long-term side effects appear that weren’t evident in initial clinical trials.

So my point, if I have one, would have to be: think for yourself, fast forward through commercials, and ride the ‘beer curve’ carefully on the dance floor. There’s a fine line between “Thass mah jam! I’ma dance now k’bye,” and “Shit, is she gonna be OK?”

This is exactly why I stay my ass off the dance floor. That, and the whole "can't dance" thing.

Things were getting a mite too serious in the final paragraphs, and I've been itching to use this image for a couple of weeks now, so BAM. Problems solved.

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~ by tazehim on August 28, 2009.

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