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    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

    ''Once you tell people there's a cure for something, the more likely they are to pressure doctors to prescribe it.''
    -Robert Ehrlich, drug advertising executive.

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    Thursday, June 05, 2003

    One Consumer’s View: T. Crown emails these trenchant observations about popular drug advertising:

    ...I got a kick out of your post on drug companies' direct-to-consumer ads. I don't know how much attention you've paid to them, but they live in the same life-cycle as other ads: They start out long and detailed, explain what the drug is, why it, and not unleavened bread, should be the Host, explain what
    it's used for, then tell you to ask your doctor for it. After a while, message saturation sets in, and the cost to continue the full ad mounts, so they release a truncated version (that, of course, always includes the bit about telling your doctor). This, of course,is mind-numbingly stupid with prescription drugs, because unlike, say, a soda, all of that information is terribly important. Use Coke to bathe, rather than to drink, and you'll be a little less clean than you would be with water; use Thorazine to cure allergies and you'll have all sorts of issues.

    Why this is funny: My wife, brother, and I were talking about this just the other day. For example, a while back an ad came out for headache or sinus
    medicine, in which a nurse afflicted by whatever was so overwhelmed that she couldn't enjoy working in the maternity ward any more. It shows the before and after shots, and has a voice overlay while she gives the little bundle of joy to the new parents, a smile on her refreshed face the whole time. When the ad was cut, it basically just amounted to: "[Drug name]: Ask your doctor about it. It's the best thing you can do for yourself." The only scene is the nurse giving the baby to mom and dad. My wife came to the conclusion (on first seeing it) that it was a fertility treatment.

    Or the Dan Reeves http://www.zocor.com/simvastatin/zocor/consumer/dan_reeves/index.jsp commercials for whatever heart medicine that was. If you don't know who Dan Reeves is, or what his well-publicized medical condition is, then a commercial where he's walking up a set of bleachers, talking frankly to the camera with his legs Clinton-like spread wide, and saying, "Guys especially need to talk to their doctors; it helped me," you might be inclined to think that he's actually Bob Dole's odd younger brother.

    We had an odd laughing fit at the thought of folks demanding from their doctors -- on pain of losing their business -- these drugs for illnesses for which they're not intended. "I want my ZOLOFT NOW!! I have GOUT!!" and so on.

    Actually, that does sometimes happen - people asking for drugs that aren’t appropriate for them based on something they saw in a commercial. But, I can’t say that the phenomenon is entirely limited to drug advertising. Personal testimonials from friends and relations can have the same result. I once had a patient ask me for lithium because it worked wonders for her sister-in-law.

    posted by Sydney on 6/05/2003 08:44:00 AM 0 comments


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