Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rant State: "ON"

One of my bigger hot buttons
(and I have more than a few) is all those frickin’ “direct to consumer” pharmaceutical ads on TeeVee. I am SO tired of them, in each and every respect. The one thing that galls me the most, however, are the government-mandated “warnings” included in these ads. I went googling to find out just who, or what, is responsible for this BS. In so doing, I found this:

As required by the US Federal Drug Administration, direct-to-consumer press ads for pharmaceutical products currently carry acres of small print, spelling out warnings of potential side-effects.

Big Pharma doesn't like this. Nor apparently does the Federal Trade Commission, which on Tuesday urged the FDA to allow drug print ads to run "brief summary" risk alerts of the kind used in broadcast commercials.

The FTC request was contained in a letter to the drug regulator, whom it also urges not to stand in the way of direct-to-consumer drug advertising. The FDA is currently engaged in a review of its rules for direct-to-consumer drug marketing, which annually generates an estimated $2.4 billion (€1.99bn; £1.39bn) in adspend.

Suspicions confirmed: it’s the FDA. I kinda agree with the FTC; I seriously doubt anyone ever reads all the mandated small-print warnings in magazine drug ads, while they’re not “acres” of small print, they are pages of same. Literally pages (plural), Gentle Reader. But that’s print, not TeeVee. You can thumb right over a drug ad in a magazine and ignore it on your way to finding out how Paris survived her jail time, not so when the bastards come right into your living room and tell you that you need — or should consider, at the very least: “Ask your doctor about…” — the latest wonder drug to control your leaky bladder, lower your blood pressure (and your cholesterol, while you’re at it), settle down your restless legs, or revive your flagging ardor…or the means to that end.

Some pharma-firms have gone all “creative” with these warnings, to the effect of having the actor/model-spokesperson recite the warnings as part of the scripted ad dialog… As an example we have the fat, bespectacled, and otherwise highly obnoxious chef of the fictional TV show “Cooking Healthy” (could be another title, I write from memory) going on about how her prescription drug of choice lowers her cholesterol while working in her digestive tract, not her liver, and may not be appropriate for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant.” WTF? Doesn’t this eliminate all women who are post-puberty and pre-menopausal…including, presumably, her-own-self? That’s just one thing I don’t get…

And then there are the “E-D” ads. I’ve written about these before, especially about the fact these ads are broadcast during prime-time, and the inevitability that your average curious nine-year-old will ask Mom or Dad “What’s erectile dysfunction?” Just how the Hell does one answer that question? Other than “never mind, Dear.”

The pharma industry claims these ads are educational in nature, and serve to increase public awareness of treatment options and alternatives. I call bullsh!t. These ads exist for the exact same purpose as any other advertisement: to sell product. The kicker is you can’t just jump into the car, drive down to the pharmacy and ask for a handful of Viagra, or Nexium, or Enablex. Nope, you gotta ask your doctor for a script. And I’ll bet that drives your average doctor freakin’ nuts…probably more so than the ads irritate me, and that irritation, Gentle Reader, is much more than considerable.

I liked life a lot better before the drug companies decided it was OK (with concurrence from the AMA and the FDA) to barge into my living room and flog drugs I neither want nor need.

(Just a note…I think the E-D drug manufacturers really missed the boat when choosing names for their products, e.g., Viagra, Cialis, et al. Since I’ve only just recently begun seeing ads for Enablex, one assumes this is a relatively new drug and the name, or variations on it, was available during the ED drug development cycle. If I would have been in charge of choosing a name for, let’s say, Viagra, I’d have used “Enables-X” instead. Say it out loud.)


Today’s Pic: Apropos of absolutely frickin’ nothing, other than the fact I’ve been thinking of the woman a lot over the course of the last few, here’s the ex-GF and I.

Dallas. February, 2004.


  1. I hate to be the one to bust your bubble, but the average 9 year old in America today probably knows what E-D is. In fact, the average 9 year old in America today knows more about sex than his grandparents did on their wedding night.

  2. I really hate those drug commercials too - all of them. You showed a video of a (European?) commercial that was pretty suggestive if not down right sexual not too long ago. I find it rather funny that you found it less offensive than the drug commercials. I would rather not have to explain any of them to children and would rather not see them myself.

    PS. I was not offended by the video on your blog, but I would have been horrified to see it the TV.

  3. Becky: Respectfully and strongly disagree. I can cite personal experience on this one, what with being the grandfather (and father) of a ten year old.

    First: If either of those boys have even the slightest conception of what transpired on MY wedding night then their parents better get 'em to a shrink, pronto. Coz those kids are WELL on their way to being perverts, if not already there.

    Second: While I haven't quizzed either boy on the subject of EeeDee, specifically, I'd bet this month's social security check that they don't have a clue here, either.

    Third: I think both kids within my personal realm of experience qualify as "average." There's no doubt in my mind that a small percentage of American kids know more than they should. But I don't think your average nine year old does. All bets are off by the time you get to 12, though.

    Lou: That European video was definitely sexually suggestive, and I approve. I don't have a problem with sexually suggestive material, in its place. And therein lies the rub, of course. Using that European vid as an example, it wouldn't offend me if it were run on American TeeVee, but not in prime time.

    The drug ads, on the other hand, offend my sense of aesthetics, more than anything. They're generally clumsy in their execution, contain little or no humor, serve a very marginal purpose from the consumer's perspective, and (being subjective here) are just generally annoying.

    The EeeDee ads offend me because of their ubiquitousness, as in when they're broadcast. IIRC my very first post on this subject said "run the ads on late night TV or buy a three-page spread in Field and Stream." Just don't run 'em when the kids are up and glued to the tube. But, see my first paragraph, above, re: clumsy, etc. All that's true here, too.

  4. Some of those ads make me laugh. Like the one for some kind of sleeping pill that says side effects include diarrhea. Great, so you are sound asleep and end up crapping yourself because you won't wake up to go to the bathroom. Better flip over to the paid advertising channel and get some of that Oxy-Clean for your sheets.

  5. Buck, I must again disagree with you. I would describe your boys as exceptional rather than average. You did a good job of raising them. Unfortunately, there are too many parents out there who don't take the care to protect the innocence of their children. They take no concern as to what their children watch on TV or on DVD, and we know how pure those are.

    When I hear 8 year old girls discussing "Brokeback Mountain", or see graphic sex scenes in a movie that is supposed to be PG, I have no doubt that kids know more than we like to think they do.

    I know my son knows more about sex that I did at his age--and has from since he was 7 or so.

    P.S. I do agree with you about the ads, though. I don't like them either.

  6. Laurie: Some make me laugh, too. The Lunesta ad (which might be the same ad with the diarrhea disclaimer) with the luminescent butterfly always makes me wonder what sort of person could actually fall asleep with a phosphorescent bug six inches away from their nose...

    Becky: We'll agree to disagree, then. SN3 and GS1 both are exceptionally cute and intelligent, I'll agree with you on that. ;-) But I feel they're pretty average in most other respects.

    As for the eight year old girls discussing Brokeback Mountain... that's their parents' fault. No eight year old of mine would have access to that movie, unless it was at a friend's house. And if that happened, the "friend" would instantaneously become an EX-friend.


Just be polite... that's all I ask.