Today, while enjoying a Browns 20-14 victory over the Steelers, I could not help but laugh through the commercials. No, not the funny Bud Light commercials. I laughed at the pharmaceutical ads. During the game, I saw an ad for Spiriva, Cymbalta, and Lunesta. Spiriva showed a woman walking through an office with an elephant. Cymbalta showed a series of people massaging their sore, aching arms and legs; Lunesta showed a woman getting a wonderful night sleep. In each advertisement, the announcer talked about the benefits of the drug for the first ten-fifteen seconds, and then about the problems and side effects for the next 45 seconds. Does anyone else not think it is odd that there seem to be more side effects than benefits with these drugs?
Anyway, the best was the Cymbalta ad, a drug used to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder. It showed all of these people looking scared and alone in the beginning of the ad, but by the end, they were hanging out with other people, laughing and smiling. It looked like it solved these people’s problems, and it would be a drug for consideration except for the side effects. Here is a list:
- stomach pain
- decreased appetite (this is a side effect! This should be toted as a benefit, if you ask me!)
- dry mouth
- increased urination
- difficulty urinating
- sweating or night sweats
- muscle pain or cramps
- changes in sexual desire or ability
- uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following side effects, or those mentioned in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
- unusual bruising or bleeding
- pain in the upper right part of the stomach
- swelling of the abdomen
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- dark-colored urine
- loss of appetite
- extreme tiredness or weakness
- flu-like symptoms
- fever, sweating, confusion, fast or irregular heartbeat, and severe muscle stiffness
- blurred vision
- blisters or peeling skin
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
List courtesy of the PubMed Health website.
It seems like a pretty long list of potential problems. Nonetheless, I find it difficult to watch these commercials, especially the ones that warn of bleeding organs and increased risk of death. Umm, I think I would be willing to try yoga and herbal tea before I put my life on the line.
Of course, if my doctor prescribed me this medication, I would take it. I trust my doctor, but it does not seem that the pharmaceutical companies do, or they would not undermine their expertise by marketing to patients. To be honest, if I had gone to medical school, worked residency, and become a fellow, I would think my expertise and knowledge would make me the authority of which medicines to prescribe for my patients.
These commercials do not give doctors much credit for knowing their patients. The commercials say, “Tell your doctor your medical history.” Really? If this doctor is truly my doctor, doesn’t he or she know my medical history? “Tell your doctor of other medications you are taking.” Well, more than likely my doctor would have prescribed those medicines, and if I was prescribed something from a specialist per se, the doctor asks about medication usage at the beginning of every appointment.
Personally, I cannot pay attention to these advertisements, except to laugh. I trust that my doctor wants what is best for me. The drug industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and they are just trying to increase their profits. It’s marketing. McDonald’s knows to market to my children because God knows I would never choose it for myself! Likewise, the drug companies market to us, “the children.”