You walk on to the used car lot and some sleazy sales guy comes up to you and wants to sell you a car. Thanks to CARFAX you can feel pretty good about the cars condition and confident about your purchase.  We should feel the same way about taking medications that have been approved by the FDA, right?

The FDA is proposing new rules that would allow them to eliminate having to list all the side effects of a drug when advertising it on a commercial. Did you know that the U.S. and New Zealand are the only countries in the world that allow direct-to-consumer marketing for prescription drugs?  They spend a whopping $5 billion a year on advertising.  Are you this poor sucker at the used car dealership just waiting to get taken advantage of, but its not a car that’s on the line, it’s your health.

Drug commercials are nothing new in the U.S.  We regularly see them and hear about all the side effects, including death! (I would argue that death is not a side effect) But what happens if we get even less information?

What most people do not think about is that to the drug companies we are customers, not patients.  They have entire sales forces out on the front lines talking to doctors about their drug and they fill TV screens with commercials to get you to buy their product.  And they are damn good at it!  But the crazy thing is that most people don’t look at themselves like prey.  They don’t think that the drug companies see them as dollar signs and a big reason is because their marketing strategies are so effective. We are sucked into the concept that “drugs are good for me”. If you are about to die from a massive infection, an antibiotic can save your life.  But if you have acid reflux, taking a pill everyday should not be the solution and can actually damage your body more in the long run.   However, drug companies have been so effective with their marketing and that is the first thing most Americans do.

Drug companies complain that when shooting a commercial, listing all the possible side effects can take up most of the commercial and that consumers (that’s you, their customer) tune out and don’t get to hear all the great benefits. Drug companies have said they feel “shackled” to these rules and it prevents them from being more creative. Translation- more creative means more distracting and brainwashing you into thinking that your life would be better with the new prescription drug.  If seventy-five percent of a 60 second commercial is about side effects, shouldn’t that raise a red flag!!! We have been so desensitized to hearing about the deadly side effects that we have come to expect it. What other industry can advertise death as a potential result and still make billions of dollars??? 

Wake up and realize that not all drug companies have your best interest at heart; some are simply trying to increase sales.  When I meet with a drug sales representative and really start asking some of the critical questions like “how does the drug work?”, “what are the side effects?”, I cringe.  Sometimes the mechanism of action is unknown, but the FDA still approves them. The craziest thing is that the majority of the population doesn’t realize that drug companies want to make money on you and are very successful at getting you to drink the Kool-Aid.