It makes you wonder what took so long in getting the American Medical Association to sit up and take notice that maybe those annoying pharmaceutical ads we’re inundated with on TV day in and day out are being deceptive in what they really can do for people. Sure, we’re used to hearing the litany of side effects that are longer than the Dead Sea Scrolls. That doesn’t keep drug companies from making the drugs look like they’ll truly help you live a better life–despite the possibility of your experiencing dizziness, diarrhea, headaches, belabored breathing or just general death. For the first time, the AMA went to Washington recently during hearings on TV drug ads and suggested that Congress place moratoriums on those drug ads who don’t really know what all the potential dangers are in their product.
No surprise that Pfizer was the biggest to blame–and may be the first company whose ads will be ripped off the air at some point in the near future. The biggest one is cholesterol drug Lipitor and that inventor (though not the creator) of the artificial heart, Dr. Robert Jarvik, who looks into the camera in his down-to-earth manner and tells you that taking Lipitor is the best thing since sliced pizza–hence forcing you onto Lipitor in the first place. What’s worse is that he was compensated handsomely (reportedly well over $1 million dollars) for the ad when we’re made to assume that he’s doing the ad out of the kindness of his…well, heart.
I know Dr. Jarvik seems to be a genuine, intelligent and caring person, but do we really believe that he’s taking Lipitor himself as we’re led to believe in those ads? Perhaps he is and one of the lucky few not experiencing every side effect from A to Z that most other people do and feeling like they’re consistently sick. Admittedly, his ads are ones that truly stand out in a genuine feeling that pharmaceutical companies care about your well-being. Now you’ll feel manipulated even more when you learn that the American Medical Association frowns upon doctors promoting pharmaceuticals in ads–plus requiring accountability of any compensation if they do decide to. Jarvik didn’t disclose his compensation.
Will you be able to look at any of those more heartfelt pharmaceutical drug ads again and not feel like your buttons are being pushed?
I get the feeling that people have known all along–that is, if you’re astute enough to weed out the deception…
The type of pharmaceutical drug ads that affect consumers psychologically…
The more serious drug ads may be the first to go–mainly because they seem to be the ones who tell the most lies. Many of them draw you in through dramatic editing or through effective use of music that can affect you psychologically. These type of ads you see are called direct-to-consumer ads where the self-explanatory system works to tap into the basic consumer who are looking for the most workable drug to control their blood pressure, cholesterol, depression or sexual dysfunctions. It’s the cholesterol drugs that seem to have made the most dramatic impact in that marketing arena–as well as pass them off as being safe when they may still need more extensive testing.
It’s truly amazing how pharmaceutical drug ads have taken over TV just in the last ten years. Before that time, you didn’t really see that many ads for prescription drugs, mostly because the AMA required that prescription drug companies state the realities of what kind of illnesses it may cause in people. For whatever reasons, those rules were loosened back in the late 1990’s and started a huge wave of TV advertising that, arguably, have created some of the most interesting commercials on TV while concurrently duping the public and ultimately making them sicker or even die in some cases from overprescribing.
If Congress actually gets around to placing moratoriums on many of those popular drug ads you see daily (if they don’t just extend being bedfellows with the pharmaceutical companies as they already are)–you may see a huge dearth in creative ads. Then again, do we really want to see more of the creepy beaver and Lincoln in Rozerem ads–or even those horny nomadic musicians singing “Viva Viagra” in a roadhouse somewhere? As much as they get our attention, it gives a lot of people a bad feeling being so highly entertained and knowing that it’s just a shill for something that could potentially harm you.
Quite frankly, I think a lot of people would rather see a return of clever ads marketing food and drink or at least something that isn’t as exponentially bad for you as a prescription drug. Not that the old days of TV advertising didn’t push garbage that could also potentially make you sick if you ate too much of it (e.g. sugar-coated cereals that give me the creeps when seeing their old 70’s and 80’s ads on Youtube today). Maybe a push can be made to get healthier products onto the dial–plus hiring up the same clever Madison Avenue minds who created the drug ads. Too bad the most creative ads have to be on something controversial when creativity and cleverness in TV advertising has been at borderline moronic level lately.
Well, Dr. Robert Jarvik could always play it safer and stick his friendly mug into the camera to hawk Cheerios, which actually do help the heart…probably better than Lipitor does.