Evil drug companies advertise prescription drugs on TV and in print.
Weak-willed consumers, unable to resist the siren’s call of those emotionally compelling pharma commercials, are instantly hooked.
(Elephants sitting on someone’s chest or cartoon umbrellas with eyes or middle-aged couples in twin bathtubs are so persuasive.)
(And the 45-second list of nasty side effects can’t deter them either! Liver failure? Feh. Vision loss, swelling of the face, anal leakage, premature death. Death? I got yer death, right here!)
“Forget all that” they exclaim. “I’ve got whatever disease was in that ad! I need to get me some of that Zolonxyfenepodreen!”
And, like they’re ordering the Garden Weasel or the 9/11 commemorative gold coin, these hypochondriacs jump on the cordless right from the couch and call their doctors who happen to be standing by. The doctor skips the whole “come in and see me,” “make an appointment” routine and phones in a ‘script to the local Osco on the spot, like you’re Elvis or Michael Jackson.
Boom! Billions a year in sales!
Yeah, but: reality’s a tad more… realistic.
I see doctors on a fairly regular basis. Between urologists, cardiologists, whateverologists I’ve got an appointment for something or other once or twice a month. After my almost heart attack I’m on six prescriptions (yeah, I’m not proud of it), plus low dose aspirin, and a couple of supplements at the instructions of one or more of these specialists. My docs prescribe whatever they prescribe, all generic drugs at $5 - $10, and that’s the end of that. I didn’t tell them what I needed, they told me.
The few times, during an exam, I brought up a drug I saw in a commercial. “Hey, doc! What do you think of that Propecia I’ve heard so much about?” Dr. Whoever came back with a quick “no, no, that’s not right for you. That would never work.” Sometimes he’ll recommend a test or a dietary change to treat what ails me but mostly, it’s let’s wait and see. Only if I keep coming back with the same thing does he write a prescription, maybe— for whatever he decides I need.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on the drug companies’ side. They are evil. They’re guilty of plenty of things. Coercing consumers into somehow over-medicating themselves with prescription drugs isn’t one of them.