Day 324: Warning: May Cause Death

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:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • heartburn
  • 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
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • weakness
  • drowsiness
  • 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
  • itching
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • dark-colored urine
  • loss of appetite
  • extreme tiredness or weakness
  • confusion
  • flu-like symptoms
  • fever, sweating, confusion, fast or irregular heartbeat, and severe muscle stiffness
  • blurred vision
  • fever
  • blisters or peeling skin
  • rash
  • hives
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • hoarseness

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.”

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6 thoughts on “Day 324: Warning: May Cause Death

  1. I take Cymbalta. Trust me, its not a cure all. It keeps me from thinking about suicide, but I am far from laughing and whooping it up with friends. I have noticed a few of the side effects, but thankfully no blisters or bleeding skin.

    • Thank God! I am assuming you take it because your doctor recommended it, not because of some silly ad. If the doctor thinks it is best, than I think it is worth taking. I just don’t think I should walk into a doctor’s office and demand a name brand drug.

      • No she recommended it when the Celexa wasn’t cutting it alone. Now I take both..It costs a arm and a leg but for now I get samples. I hate those ads too. Was nervous taking it, but the worst problem I have is not being able to poo.

  2. After negotiating the obstacle course of heart surgery for my husband, I’ve learned one thing: your doctor does not know who you are, at least not in detail. You always have to bring a list of medications and remind them what you are taking. Sure, they could get the information from your chart, but it saves time if you can just hand them a paper. You have to remind them of allergies and past treatments. Doctors are only human and they have hundreds of patients. For serious issues, we also discovered it’s best to bring along a partner, someone who is not sick and can act as a second ear for all those instructions they give you.

    That said, I always laugh at the commercials too. All those side effects are one reason I prefer to try natural remedies first. And the reason the pharmaceutical companies market to patients is the same reason food companies market junk food and cereals to kids – they know a lot of people will pester their doctor for whatever they heard about on TV. And far too many doctors give in.

    Just like the parents.

    • Agreed! Oh, and I agree about the nedications and the like. But I know every time I am there, we review my history and she asks for updates ob everything before we begin looking into whatever ails me. I think doctor’s have pretty good protocal to try to not screw up!

  3. This is such a well written piece Cheryl. I am very anti-drug. I rarely will even take Advil! I am a Marketer and a lot of people in my field FLOCK to the pharmaceutical companies for the money and ease. I swore off ever going that way with my expertise a long time ago and don’t plan to ever falter in that decision.

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