TV & Showbiz

Drug Ads are Getting More and More Ridiculous


Drug ads help make would-be customers aware of products that may help. But they also carry outrageous, sometimes hilarious disclaimers.

I’ve often wondered whether drug ads on television cause more harm than good. I’m sure physicians are sick of their patients coming in demanding to be prescribed the latest “miracle cure” they’ve seen during an episode of their favorite reality show.

But if you actually listen to these marathon commercials, you might find yourself chuckling at the blatant absurdity.

Just the other day, I saw a commercial about a new alternative to blood thinners.

The spot begins with a woman rushing her elderly father to the emergency room. In the vignette, she explains while talking handsfree to someone while they’re on the way to the hospital that he took a fall and the wound wouldn’t stop bleeding.

We then see them in a hospital room with a doctor discussing the risk of blood thinners. The doctor tells the woman that her father’s atrial fibrillation increases his risk of stroke, which is why he’s on the blood thinner to begin with.

She then mentions an alternative that can reduce the risk of stroke.

Then along comes the announcer who takes us through the required disclosure of possible side effects.

Those side effects include internal bleeding and stroke.

Wait a second. Wasn’t the concern that brought them to the hospital out-of-control bleeding? Wasn’t the concern that prompted the doctor to mention the alternative treatment about a risk of stroke?

“And in rare cases, it can be fatal,” the announcer adds.

Well, sign everyone up for that!

I get it: anything carries the potential of being fatal. We’re not guaranteed that we’ll even make it alive to the office or the grocery store the next time we get in our car.

We’re all going to die sometime. But when the “solution” carries the exact same concerns as the “problem,” does it sound like a solution to you?

The announcer instructs the viewers to discuss the treatment with their cardiologist. I’m sure cardiologists everywhere are jumping for joy over that.

I wonder how they handle conversations with a patient concerned about specific side effects when they enthusiastically inquire about other options that carry the same side effects…or worse.

It was 1997 when the FDA allowed such ads for prescription drug treatments to hit the airwaves. A Washington Times editorial in 2017 called it a dumb decision in 1997 and a dumb decision now. It called for the ads to be banned altogether.

Should they be? Do you think drug ads are helpful?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.