brought to you by Lunesta, Viagra, Celexa, Celebrex, Lyrica, Cymbalta…

I just finished watching the Nightly News with Brian Williams on NBC and I am feeling quite annoyed. Why? Well besides the fact that there is not one news media source viewers can turn to for unbiased reporting-not only are we not being provided proper information, we are overwhelmingly bombarded with prescription drug ads. Put into perspective: NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX, etc., etc. are really just legal drug pushers. I mean seriously, have you noticed the ever-increasing number of prescription drug ads making their way into your home? It’s pretty nauseating. The way the ad manipulates you into believing taking their pill will fix your eczema, asthma, cholesterol, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, psoriasis, penile dysfunction, and so on and so forth. One thing we need to remember is that drugs target the symptom not the cause.

Cue good looking, in-shape actor or actress running down the beach along side their mate, faces aglow with the happiness that has been bestowed upon them from their prescription medication. Uh. Puke. Now don’t get me wrong, I do realize that prescription medication is warranted in society and I have no doubt that it has helped millions of people with their conditions, ailments, and diseases whatever they may be. What I don’t get is the purpose of selling the medication over the television. Seriously, shouldn’t your doctor be the one who discusses and prescribes the medications indicative of your condition? It’s obvious that prescription drug ads are a way for pharmaceutical companies to expand their market and increase their profits. Making up new conditions, such as LowT (low testosterone) or not-so-lush lashes (Latisse). It’s called ‘disease mongering’ and it’s used to widen their client base by getting you to ask your doctor if you have this particular condition and then having him/her prescribe the drug. Walla! Sold!

To date, the United States and New Zealand are the only TWO nations in the ENTIRE WORLD that permits Direct to Consumer (DTC) advertising for prescription drugs. Big Pharma spends over 4 billion dollars in DTC advertising and it is well worth it. As Americans, we consume over 40% of the world’s prescription drugs! Advertising has helped fuel sales. Last year, the top 15 prescription products topped $58 billion in sales, IMS Health says. The industry’s biggest seller was Lipitor, with $7.8 billion in sales. Nexium is the second-best at $5.9 billion.

Besides the corrupt government revolving door between the FDA, Big Pharma, and the drug lobby, one of the biggest irks for me when it comes to pushing prescription drugs on people is the use of celebrities. Celebrities pushing prescription drugs in TV ads, “It’s perfectly legal; it’s just completely immoral,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of the Public Citizen Health Research Group. Wolfe worries that patients will ask for a drug or prescription cream because the celebrity appeal outweighs the side effects or risks.

Hello, Brooke Shields. How many of you out there want her eyelashes after seeing her in the Latisse commercials? Come on gals. “Grow longer, grow fuller and darker lashes with Latisse.” Vomit.

Add in the likes of Sally Field (Boniva), Antonio Banderas (Nasonex), Michael Welch (Aczone), Jessica Simpson (Proactiv), Phil Mickelson (Enbrel), Bob Dole (Viagra), Virginia Madsen (Botox), Nick Jonas (Lantus, Metformin), and the list goes on and on.

Needless to say, drug commercials drive me insane. The beautiful outdoor scenery, palm trees, a light breeze, birds singing, smiling faces. Ugh! The worst part is when they happily rattle off all of the side effects that take up half the commercial. How do they make the following sound so good? Like it’s no big deal.

[Serious allergic reactions Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and/or throat Difficulty breathing Difficulty swallowing Anemia Decreased levels of potassium Decreased levels of sodium Dizziness Excessive bleeding (sometimes fatal) Facial flushing Fainting (syncope) Fast heartbeat (tachycardia) Heart attack High blood pressure (hypertension) Increased levels of potassium Low blood pressure (hypotension) Low blood cell counts Palpitations Perpetual erection (priapism) Postural hypotension Slow heartbeat (bradycardia) Thrombosis (clotting) Amnesia Dizziness (vertigo) Seizures Speech disorder Stroke Transient ischemic atychosis Worsening of epilepsy Abdominal pain Colitis Constipation Diarrhea Dry mouth Dyspepsia Intestinal bleeding Nausea Rectal bleeding Stomach bleeding Stomach pain Upset Stomach (indigestion) Vomiting Acute kidney failure Chronic kidney failure Hepatitus Jaundice Liver damage Cold symptoms Cough Flu-like symptoms Lower respiratory infection Fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) Pulmonary thrombosis Shortness of breath (dyspnea) Sore throat Upper respiratory infection Aggression Agitation Anxiety Confusion Depression Hallucinations Hostile Hyperactive Impulsive Irritable Panicky Personality disorder Overly excited Severely restless (akathisia) Sleeplessness (insomnia) Suicide Weakness (asthenia)….]

“Ask your doctor if (insert any medication here) is right for you and get back to the things that matter.”

I obviously try and mute the commercial or DVR the program to avoid subjecting myself to such grandiloquence.

I’m afraid if I don’t my HEAD will EXPLODE.

How’s that for a side effect?

dr. lisa