Should Pharmaceutical Ads be Banned from TV?
Do you have restless leg syndrome? Erectile dysfunction? Skimpy eyelashes? No matter what you have, or suspect you have, there’s a pill for you. I saw it on television.
Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, stroke, heart attack, diarrhea, and in rare instances, death…
… the dizzying list of side effects has become so lengthy and repetitious that we tune them out.
“If you think you may have (disease of choice), ask your doctor about (latest pill).” Rather than advise that you seek diagnosis and consider all treatment options, you are directed to request a particular prescription. Sometimes it’s every day folks urging us on, sometimes it’s a celebrity endorsement — none so surprising as Brooke Shields telling us about the pill that will give us longer, fuller lashes. Seriously.
Pharmaceutical companies are playing into every fear and every illness, real and imagined, as never before. Why market only to doctors when you can reach the patient — the consumer — directly. The number of pharmaceutical ads in prime time television has risen so dramatically that they are all but impossible to ignore. Whatever ails you, there’s a pill to make you feel better.
That’s not to say that all prescription medications are bad, or that patients should not have access to information. But the constant bombardment of ads telling us that the answer is in a pill is escalating our penchant for pill-popping hypochondria. Especially vulnerable are the young children who are indoctrinated into this mindset.
Currently in the House Committee on Ways and Means, H. R. 2966, also known as the “Say No to Drugs Act,” seeks to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to deny any deduction for direct-to consumer advertisements of prescription drugs.
Attacking from another front, H.R.2175, known as the “Families for ED Advertising Decency Act,” was introduced to prohibit as indecent the broadcasting of any advertisement for a medication for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, and for other purposes. This bill, currently in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, would not allow such advertising on radio or television on any day between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
It’s a beginning. As we delve ever-deeper into the details of major health care reform, this is one issue that should not be overlooked. Not every condition requires a prescription and sometimes the potential side-effects are not worth the potential benefits. Not to mention the tremendous cost to the consumer in the form of co-pays and premiums. After all, someone’s got to pay for all that advertising.
Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/755991