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Voyageur's Best Generally Speaking of 2005


I want a new drug
Drug commercials
by Cynthia Brekke  |  January 25, 2005

Watch T.V. for any length of time and you’ll see them... the commercials must be cheaper by the dozen or something. For a country that strives to be ‘drug-free’, there sure are a lot of drug commercials. I realize that ‘drug-free’ refers to illegal drugs but we shift from one biologically-altering drug to another.

For just about anything you can name, there’s a drug. Want to lose weight? There’s a pill for that. Are you menopausal or premenopausal and having trouble losing weight? There’s a pill for that. Can’t sleep? There’s a pill for that. Can’t concentrate? Yep, there’s a pill for that. Chronic fatigue your problem? You get the picture. Allergies, diarrhea, constipation, irritated bladder or bowel, indigestion, acid reflux, headaches, back aches, tooth aches... the list goes on and on and on. Could it possibly be true that there’s a pill to cure all our ills? Okay, that may be pushing the envelope.

The over-the-counter medication commercials are countless, but prescription drug advertisements are catching up fast. Pharmaceutical companies are taking the direct approach. It’s almost as if they want you to march into your medical professionals’ offices and tell them what you want to take. ‘Ask your doctor if this is right for you’... isn’t that almost like the tail wagging the dog?

The people in these commercials run through fields of flowers, dance or walk on exotic beaches... it’s all about having a life and living it to it’s fullest... with the help of one little pill.

However, if you keep listening, and read the small print that flashes on the screen for a fraction of a second, you may find that the cure may be worse than the ailment. After the commercials tout the wonder and effectiveness of their product, and finish with the ‘fluff’ portion of their message, they begin listing the numerous side effects. ‘Serious side affects can occur. Talk to your health care provider to see if this drug is right for you’. Let’s see, among others there’s dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, possible stroke, heart attack and my personal favorite: sexual side effects. Don’t take it if you have a history of... I can’t even remember all the ailments. Whoa. You need more drugs just to counter act the side effects from the first drug... and so on, and so on, and so on.

All kidding aside, there’s no doubt that medications have provided us with many benefits, as evidenced by the fact that we’re living longer (on the average). There are those who could not live without medication and need it for their very survival, no matter what the cost. My worst fear is that someday I’ll have to take eight pills in the morning just to live another day. My father was at least a six-pill-twice-a-day heart patient. He had open heart surgery in the mid 1960’s, back when just injecting the dye in to view the blood vessels around the heart was deadly. His procedure was, what they now call, a bypass. They gave him a year to live. He died 12-years later. Was it the drugs? Most of us believed he was just too stubborn or ornery to go. Disposition does have quite a bit to do with it, in my opinion.

Maybe my biggest pet peeve is the things they don’t have drugs for. I need a new drug... one that makes it possible to enjoy doing housework... or dishes... just long enough to get them done. It can wear off in an hour or two. Or, how about one that makes spinach taste like chocolate... or anything that’s good for you (and tastes extremely gross) taste like whatever you love the most. Where’s Willy Wonka when you need him?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not picking on anyone or any ailment here. I’m picking on the commercials. The one that almost knocked me off the couch to the floor was for a male enhancement drug which has an unusual side effect... the commercial states that if an erection lasts for more than four hours, seek medical attention immediately. That’s... ummm... an interesting side effect. FOUR HOURS? No comment.

This article first appeared in the January 25, 2005 issue of the Voyageur Press.