Misleading drug advertising

Just Say “Maybe”

I think drug company executives must be delighted with a current television ad that lets seniors know they can get information about drug discount cards at the Medicare web site.

The ad shows a montage of older people as they go about their daily routines. As each person appears on screen, a printed message also appears that says, “Needs 4 prescriptions.” Or, “Needs 5 prescriptions.” And so on.

Think of all the younger people who see this ad and get the message that as we age, everyone needs a few prescriptions. Then, 20 or 30 years from now, when their doctor says they need a statin drug for high cholesterol, or a beta-blocker for high blood pressure, they’ll already have the message burned into their brain: I’m older now, so I need a few prescriptions.

Too bad the ad doesn’t offer a more balanced view of healthcare, with messages on the screen like, “Discovered that two of his prescriptions were simply treating side effects caused by his other two prescriptions.” Or, “Unaware that her 3 prescriptions are reducing her body’s ability to absorb vitamins.” Or, “Successfully addressing health concerns with balanced nutrition, daily exercise and dietary supplements.”

We tell kids that when offered drugs they should, “Just say No.”

We should also be telling kids that when they get older and their doctors offer them drugs they should just say, “Maybe. Let me do some research and I’ll get back to you.”

It’s not a snappy slogan, but it’s a good message.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute