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Something I Just Don't Understand


Last Edited: September 16, 2006, 7:33 pm

To those of us who spend too much time in front of the boob tube, have you ever noticed how many commercials are promoting health care products? I guess all the healthy people who aren't constipated or don't suffer from the heartbreak of psoriasis or itchy athlete's foot are out enjoying life.

However, there's one thing I just don't get. Whom are the prescription drug ads targeting? Let's say you have high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, acid reflux or many of the other ailments for which you'd seek medical help. So you go to a physician who examines you and orders several very expensive and intrusive laboratory tests. He puts you on a treatment plan and tells you to return in 2 weeks.

One day you're sitting on your couch doubled over clutching onto your heart and gasping for breath after watching a rerun of I Love Lucy. During the commercial break, an actor is playing with his dog and tells you that a drug changed his life. So do you call up your doctor and say “Guess what, Dr. Ripmeoff?  I think those pills you gave me aren't doing the job. This guy on TV told me to get Pound-Away.” What would his response be? “Well, shoot. I probably missed that one. What channel? I've got to get cable one of these days. I'll call the pharmacy right way.”

Even if you saw the ad before seeking medical attention, how confident would you feel if you needed to suggest a prescription drug to a doctor in whom you are trusting your very existence?  Was he playing golf the day they taught Atrial Fibrillation 101? “Gee, I never even heard of that one. Let me turn on Channel 7 and see if I can get a little more information about about the side effects.”

That's another thing I don't understand. After the pretty ad showing people dancing on top of a mountain, the announcer lists all of the side effects from the drug. Now, let's say you have liver disease and your doctor has been prescribing this drug, would you call him/her immediately and say “the guy on TV says I shouldn't take Fartnomore for my Irritable Bowel if I have a liver problem.” 

One of the most common prescriptions advertised is for “E.D.” I realize that's an acronym for erectile dysfunction, but I have to wonder if, since it's on television, someone wasn't thinking of “Mr. Ed” when first coming up with the catchy name. There is one Viagra ad that is way too unrealistic. A man is watching a baseball game. He sees the hitter slamming the ball high into left field and his wife gives him a nod to say “I want you.” So he pops a tape into the VCR and heads to the bedroom. Get real! I mean, these 2 people live together and during the very moment the home team might get a grand slam she gets horny and he jumps? This ad isn't about impotence, it's about a wife who is a control freak. He doesn't need Viagra, he needs a set of balls.

Well it's time to head out for dinner. I just hope if, God forbid, I get sick on some bad fish or contaminated spinach and am rushed to the hospital tonight, everyone in the ER has been tuning into the latest commercials.

Entry #2


Rick GComment by Rick G - September 16, 2006, 7:52 pm
Nancy...funny. I really enjoy the quickly-worded side effects which sound worse than the ailment they're prescribed for. My favorite is the fat-free products that contain Olestra but warn you of anal leakage in real tiny print on the back of the bag of chips. That's classic...I don't want no fat but a little anal leakage never hurt no one.

Don't count on the ER visit being a happy one tonight after the spinach intake. My son dislocated his knee at school a couple years ago and it cost me $2500 dollars for the transport, x-rays and one-hour stay in the ER.. And they call lawyers sharks.
justxploringComment by justxploring - September 16, 2006, 8:24 pm
Yeah, and if you are losing weight to have a better social life, I think the anal leakage will sort of put a damper on that too! "Hey, Sue. How'd you like your date Sat?"   "Oh, Mary, he was so handsome and slender too. Unfortunately, all during the show there was a terrible odor coming from his seat."
Of course we all know about the Cialis 4 hour side effect called priapism. No man would call his doctor for help. He'd call the 11:00 news.
Comment by Rip Snorter - September 16, 2006, 8:50 pm
Another good entry justx. I read somewhere one of the few countries in the world where erectile dysfunction isn't a major problem for men is China, where they spent half a century killing off all the girl-babies. Might be just a coincidence, however.
emilygComment by emilyg - September 16, 2006, 10:53 pm
i have never put all my trust in any physician. to me a physician is just another tradesperson i hire to take care of a problem.

four4meComment by four4me - September 17, 2006, 12:47 am
justxploring wrote: Of course we all know about the Cialis 4 hour side effect called priapism. No man would call his doctor for help.

Four4me writes: if i have an erection that lasts more than 4 hrs i'll be calling up some old girlfriends.
TenajComment by Tenaj - September 17, 2006, 1:25 am
I like the other one - Met Bob.
Rick GComment by Rick G - September 17, 2006, 3:33 am
"The odor coming from his seat"...you're killing me here. I hope it wasn't "Gone With the Wind".
emilygComment by emilyg - September 17, 2006, 2:33 pm
gone with the wind!! rick - too much   hehe
justxploringComment by justxploring - September 17, 2006, 2:50 pm
I agree, Rick. Funny!
Comment by jim695 - September 17, 2006, 3:23 pm
Two years ago I wrote a nasty letter to Revlon. They were running some lip gloss commercial with a k.d. lang voice-over ("Bellissimo," I think). At the time, it occurred to me that some marketing executive stood up during a meeting somewhere and exclaimed, "This idea will revolutionize the advertising industry: If we mercilessly annoy people and drive them to the brink of madness, they will buy our products in a hopeless attempt to make it stop." Someone listened, and soon many other advertising firms began adopting this new concept, which eventually prompted me to write that letter to Revlon.

I tuned in to TV Land one day and, at the top of the hour, I started my stopwatch. At the end of the hour, that Revlon commercial (yes, the SAME ONE EVERY TIME), ran an incredible fourteen times! That's fourteen minutes out of sixty that I was forced to listen to Ms. lang mispronounce the Italian word, "bellissimo." During the next hour, the same commercial ran fifteen times; the third hour, fourteen times.

I explained in my letter that this incessant nagging had NOT prompted me to run out and buy fourteen tubes of lip gloss (I still haven't used the first one, which, incidentally, I don't remember buying), but it had caused me to empty a clip into the screen of the offending messenger (the drywallers came the next day).

Anyway, about a week later I received a letter from a nice woman who patiently explained why Revlon wouldn't be replacing my television set, and she thoughtfully attached a copy of the restraining order she had obtained against me (according to the document, I'm not even allowed to be in the same state she's in at any given time, and it also precludes me from endorsing or otherwise recommending Revlon products to any of my friends or members of my family). Her letter included an apology, of sorts, which stated that, since I wasn't a member of their targeted demographic, I should simply change the channel when that commercial airs.

Who says one person can't make a difference?

justxploringComment by justxploring - September 17, 2006, 5:22 pm
Good post, Jim. Strange, but interesting.

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