Like many other Real Women getting through our usual weekday morning routines, I turn on the TV to catch the local news, followed by a few minutes of National News. (I’ll save the debate between the Today Show and Good Morning America for another day.) And just as I can rely on my own routine and the timing of each morning chore (get the dog fed by 5:45, son out of bed by 6:10 then out to the bus at 6:50, etc…. you know the drill), I can also rely on seeing some of the same TV commercials every single morning.
There is the local laser vision correction firm that has run the exact same spot for years – long enough that I’m quite sure the toddler in the ad is now in College. Depending on the time of the month or year, there’s a multitude of car ads. There’s the local Tractor dealer who has pumped up his ad spend for springtime. Or of course Dunkin Donuts is on, telling me how they can help me run. However the most frequent and frightening ads of all are from the drug companies. It seems there are more and more pharmaceutical ads each morning, encouraging us to pop yet another pill to cure our allergies, our sleep disorders, our arthritis, our aches and pains, our depression and yes – even our sexual dysfunctions.
I will pause here to say that I am completely blessed, and lucky, to have very good health. The only “medicines” I take on a regular basis are vitamins… and occasionally an Aleve or Advil for muscle aches or sinus congestion. I have never had to take a sleep aide, I have no ongoing health issues, I don’t suffer from massive allergies….I really do realize I’m in a minority and am thankful every day for it, because I understand there are many folks out there who do need some medical assistance to get through their days pain-free. And I’m certainly not referring to the very serious health problems and diseases that far too many people face – we can all be thankful that there have been such advancements in medicine to help treat those who are very sick.
All that said – after listening to these morning ads, I sometimes wonder if the potential side-effects and issues the medicines can cause are worth taking them in the first place. In every commercial, after the lovely images of a couple walking on a beach, or a butterfly floating through the night sky, or a parent playing catch with a child, there inevitably is a voice-over by a person who sounds like they’ve had far too much caffeine…. and within 10 seconds, that voice has basically just said “it will either cure ya or kill ya.”
Let’s take a look at a couple examples. Got allergies? Well, you could try taking Alavert…. Just be sure to give your doctor a ring if you experience difficulty breathing, have facial swelling, uneven heart rate, jaundice or seizures. But apparently don’t worry too much if you have “less serious” issues like headaches, nervousness, nosebleeds or blurred vision. Those are par for the course if you want to be able to go out and frolic in the garden.
Are you unfortunately one of the apparently large group of folks who suffer from joint pain or Fibromyalgia? (which, by the way, is another word I’d never heard until these ads informed me of its existence). Well, Lyrica apparently can make you feel better – unless of course it causes you to experience behavioral changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, muscle pain (wait, isn’t it supposed to stop that?), easy bruising or bleeding, loss of memory or tremors. Yikes.
And asthma? Oh, my. Something like Symbicort could help you breathe easier… Unless it doesn’t. Because one of the side effects could be worsening asthma symptoms. Huh? If it does help, then you only have to be concerned about your run-of-the-mill chest pains, fevers, chills, nausea, dangerously high blood pressure or mouth sores.
Oddly, as I listen to many of these drug warnings, there seem to be some that are quite common across the board – things like blurred vision, headaches, swelling of various body parts, digestive issues and mood swings. Doesn’t seem to matter what the drug is, or what it is treating, you could most likely look forward to at least one of these.
Call me crazy, but it just really makes me wonder if the initial problem is any worse than the potential other issues you could have in trying to find relief. It has gotten to the point that listening to these ads has become a game for my son and I – he counts how many side effects are listed, and we pick out the worst one and compare it to what the drug is suppose to be treating in the first place.
Perhaps the pharmaceutical companies should just re-work their messaging, and rather than throwing the scary stuff in at the end of the spot, they could run through it quickly and quietly at the beginning and then end on a high note. Like: “(You might lose the use of a limb or go into a deep depression, but) boy your skin looks great! “ Or “(Your heart will pound, you won’t be able to see and you’ll be nervous and edgy, but) enjoy a long walk through an open meadow of blowing pollen and breathe easy!”
Hmmmmm…. no thanks.