TV & Showbiz

Parkinson’s Disease Ad Getting Mixed Reviews


A commercial directing people to information about a lesser-known effect of Parkinson’s Disease isn’t necessarily a hit with patients and caregivers.

For most of us, I suppose the general decline of muscle strength, balance and coordination makes Parkinson’s Disease frightening enough. It was for me.

Then I saw a commercial about the illness that made it sound even worse. Take a look at the spot I’m talking about:

The man depicted as a Parkinson’s patient sees shadowy figures, even a phantom cat, in his home.

The portrayed patient says, in part, “What stories they tell, but for my ears only. What plots they unfold, but only in my mind.”

The announcer says, “Hallucinations and delusions. These are the unknown parts of living with Parkinson’s Disease.”

The spot promotes the website, which claims more than 50% of people living with Parkinson’s will experience hallucinations or delusions during the course of their disease.

Note that around the :22 mark, the patient walks through his home and spots his apparent wife, who then is shown embracing another man.

University of Florida Health reports that up to 40% of Parkinson’s patients will suffer either hallucinations or delusions:

Delusions are usually of a common theme, typically of spousal infidelity. Other themes are often paranoid in nature (such as thinking that people are out to steal from one’s belongings, or to harm or place poison on their food, or substitute their Parkinson medications, etc.)

Their research found that some patients actually call 911 or the police to report a burglary or a plot to hurt them.

Ad gets mixed reaction from patients, caregivers

While some appreciate the potential awareness this spot might raise, others say it’s an unfair depiction that could be dangerous.

Others are angry that the spot promotes a website apparently sponsored by ACADIA Pharmaceuticals, which is enough to aggravate some people because they feel it’s some sort of commercial disguised as a public service announcement. ACADIA produces the drug Nuplazid, described as “the first and only medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinson’s disease psychosis.”

One commenter at HealthUnlocked complained the ad was misleading:

That’s not an accurate portrayal of a disease with many symptoms and from what I have read eventually we will have treatments tailored for our specific PD type. The commercial was scary and misleading. Put me in a sour mood all day.

But another responded to this comment with a different take:

unfortunately for me that commercial was spot on reality for what my father lives with every single day. He is on his 11th year with Parkinson’s he suffers with delusions hallucinations dystonia dyskinesia the paranoia agitation. And he is taking this medication . Everyday he experiences some form of delusion fear people are out to kill him hurt him.

I had never heard of the possible psychosis Parkinson’s patients can face, so the spot was definitely news to me. I think there’s definitely value in raising awareness.

But some are raising the concern that people who have only recently been diagnosed and are still able to work may be viewed differently by co-workers or their employers. They say it’s also potentially frightening for people who’ve recently been diagnosed and are suddenly now fearing this symptom.

I definitely agree that the spot is, as several have called it, “creepy.” The first time I saw the spot, particularly the scene about the wife and the other man, the first thing I thought of is whether a delusion like this could lead to some sort of crime from a patient trying to scare off or injure a perceived cheater. (I watch too much Forensic Files, apparently.)

Regardless of how dark and disturbing the spot might be, it has gotten a conversation started. It definitely has made more people aware of a “lessor-known” symptom.

But how is that knowledge helping those with the disease or their loved ones and caregivers? If it’s providing more understanding and helping others be more sympathetic to what they’re going through, maybe it’s not such a bad spot after all.

If it’s only casting patients in a bad light, which I honestly don’t believe was the intent, then it may not be so helpful after all.

What’s your take?

What do you think of the spot? Would you want a spot like this airing if you were a patient?


  1. I am happy for the commercial. My loved one does not think he has a problem, and this has opened up an opportunity to discuss with his doctor. THANK YOU

    1. I’m sorry to hear you’re dealing with this horrible disease, but if the spot helped him realize it was time to talk to his physician, then the effort was certainly worth it! I’m glad to hear it’s helping.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 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.