Kicking Back With Jersey Joe: Knock It Off With The Confusing Prescription Drug Ads Oct08

Share This

Kicking Back With Jersey Joe: Knock It Off With The Confusing Prescription Drug Ads

I was flipping through my Sports Illustrated yesterday and instead of reading about the upcoming World Series, the Takeda Pharmaceuticals Company of America would rather discuss treatment for gout.  Gout?  I don’t drink enough to suffer from gout!  After flipping through a few more pages, the AstraZeneca Corporation wants to discuss asthma, another condition from which I do not suffer.  My mind starts to wonder, why are they advertising all of these medications that I don’t need in a sports magazine?

The ads are not just confined to magazines.  Flip on just about any television station and you’ll get bombarded with commercials for prescription drugs.  I’ve even seen them while riding the New York City subway to work everyday.

I can’t really see how these ads can be effective for the mass audience.  Some drugs are advertising to a small percentage of Americans who actually suffer from a specific disease.  Can you honestly remember the last pill ad you saw in a magazine?  Doubtful.

The drug names themselves make this process already difficult.  It’s not like they are simple product names.  Who couldn’t forget a pill if it was called “Baby Stop Birth Control,” “Headache Be Gone” or “You Lush Gout Relief?”  So first off – we’ve got to simplify most of these names.

Next, take a close look at these print ads.  Most have a second page on the back that is nothing more than one big legal disclaimer.  Of course, they don’t want to get sued.  So, they list every little possible side effect that the drug could have.  Some of these are down right scary!  Chantix, for example, can cause you to have hallucinations, vivid dreams, and for your skin to fall off!  I love the TV ads that use the pointless B-roll with the woman reading a magazine, cooking lunch, or petting the cat; while the announcer reads all the legal mumbo jumbo.

Magazine publishers must love selling space for these ads.  They make a pretty penny and in most cases get to fill several pages of ad space.  Same with television – these companies pay top dollar for those two minute commercials.  And who eventually foots part of that bill – you do when you get that prescription filled!

Our health system in the United States is totally screwed and corrupt.  Let’s just call it what it is.  The costs are out of control thanks to greedy shareholders, money hungry doctors, and lawyers looking to sue at the drop of an aspirin.  We’re the most powerful country in the world, but we are way behind in health care.  Take a close look at your medical bills… who can explain all of those nonsense charges?

I feel that having all of these ads can lead to mass confusion with patients.  If someone only quickly hears the commercial and only catches one or two of the points, then walks into their doctor and asks for it without fully understanding what’s going on.  If you don’t have a medical degree, you shouldn’t be guessing on what prescription medication to take.

So, here’s a way for everyone to save a buck… let’s drop all of these prescription drug ads and instead offer them as free samples inside the doctor’s office.  Let the doctor decide what the best pill for my ailment and give me a small sample to try before getting my prescription filled.  It would still create competition between the companies.  It would force them to create a better sales pitch, which would be targeted to the doctor, and then let him dispense the drug of choice.  It should be then up to me to go with that or try another based on the sample that I would be given at the office.

As money gets tighter and as more jobs are cut, many Americans are left without a health care plan and are becoming desperate to find a way to lower the cost of health care.  I believe my proposed plan would work without hurting the drug companies’ bottom line. In fact, they would be saving by cutting the ad dollars.  I’m sure newspapers, magazines, and television stations hate this idea, but we all survived just fine before these ads started appearing only a few years ago.

THE 411

What: Prescription drug advertisements

Where: Newspapers, magazines, television, and radio

JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS: End all media advertising for prescription drugs and instead target the individual doctors with samples to give to the patients.  Based on a doctor’s recommendation, the patient can make their own choice.  Sure, the doctors are in danger of being influenced by the drug companies, so they should have samples of a few different brands for patients choose.  End these long boring ads with names no one can remember and let the doctors do their job.  I will be sad when they are gone, some are entertaining and so over the top it’s actually a two minute joke.  But in the end, most are just plain confusing…

Also, check out one of my earliest blogumns back when I was filling in for Ryan, where I reviewed some of the craziest drug commercials on TV.