Why is it that drug companies bother to advertise prescription drugs on television? I mean, if you need a prescription, what’s the point? Big Pharma will tell you that they are merely trying to increase the general population’s awareness of undiagnosed medical conditions and to encourage folks to see their doctors. That’s very thoughtful of Big Pharma, and I’m sure it has nothing to do with trying to increase sales (sarcasm font).
Based on the depth and breadth of the prescription commercials that I see, every other person in the country must have an “undiagnosed medical condition,” and the power of that suggestion is enormous. It’s like when someone tells you that he has poison ivy and regularly scratches his arm. It doesn’t take long before you feel itchy, too. After an evening of television viewing, I am convinced that I have half the conditions listed in the Physicians’ Desk Reference. Never mind that by taking the medication for micro-fingernailalgia (MFA) for example, I might develop any one of about 12,549 side effects including, but not limited to, headaches, toothaches, backaches, heartaches, constipation, loose stool, loose change, and loose morals. But I don’t want micro-fingernailalgia—I want to throw a Frisbee in the park and meet other, nice looking people who are walking their dogs and hugging each other and who also suffer from micro-fingernailalgia. So I run to my doctor, bursting into the office, yelling, “Doc, make me a happy, micro-fingernailalgia-free Frisbee thrower! Give me some Nailzoperen!” (Pronounced “nail-zoh-perin” with the accent on the “zoh.”)
It must work like this or we wouldn’t see so darn many of these irritating commercials.
Now, if you now think you have micro-fingernailalgia (MFA) you have definitely watched too many of these ads because I just made up that condition, although if any R&D people from Pfizer read this, you might hear that “scientists” have discovered a new ailment in another year or two. Furthermore, television ads for prescription drugs are legal in the United States and in New Zealand and nowhere else in the world. Make of that what you will.
Of course, drug commercials on TV have been around almost as long as TV has. Here’s one for the sleep aid, Sominex, and if you’re my age, I bet you can sing the jingle without first viewing the following video, one that features the Lennon Sisters in their pajamas singing along with Mitch Miller’s bouncing ball.
They didn’t worry about mentioning the side effects back then, because the lawyers hadn’t taken over the world yet, and besides, the Sominex ad was probably followed by a cigarette ad, and sucking on three packs of Lucky Strikes a day was bound to kill you before any of the Sominex side effects.