Will listing fewer side effects cure those drug ads?

Do we have to hear about everything from diarrhea and vomiting to psoriasis and toenail fungus every five minutes while watching television?

Seriously — you’d better hope you’ve already finished your dinner before tuning into your favorite show!

I, for one, would be perfectly happy to never see another one of these mini-cinematic productions about how someone’s life became all sunshine and roses after taking a pill or shot of something — except, of course, for the mention of some nasty side effects.

Drugmakers don’t want to tell us about what can happen when we take these drugs any more than we want to hear about them.

And soon, they may not have to — thanks to an unfortunate plan that will take a bad idea and make it even worse.


‘Ask your doctor’

Since we see so many of these ads, it’s hard to remember a time when they weren’t on the airwaves — and when any mention of overactive bladders or “male performance” during dinner would have been considered unthinkable!

Big Pharma now spends $5 billion a year to pitch its dubious meds to us directly, but it all started out innocently enough. In 1981, it tested the TV waters with an ad that would be considered tame by today’s standards: It simply told viewers that its drug, Rufen, was cheaper than Motrin!

But watching television hasn’t been the same since — because, as a result, a bunch of drugmakers banded together and relentlessly pressured the FDA to allow them to advertise any and every drug directly to consumers, no matter what the risks. 

The FDA eventually allowed these hideous ads to run, but with a condition: They’d have to include a whole bunch of the side effects that may result from using these drugs, along with reminders to “ask your doctor!”

Now, the FDA is reconsidering that rule. In other words: keep on advertising those meds, but cut out telling us about most of the adverse reactions they can cause.

After all, we don’t really pay attention when an announcer is rattling off things like vomiting, rashes, lowered immune function, broken bones and constipation… right?

According to its current head, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the agency has been researching this for years — and has decided that we don’t really “retain” that information when we hear so many risks anyway.

So, why not just stick with the biggies — like death — and forget all the others?

But as we all know, once Big Pharma gets its foot in the door, that’s just the beginning.

I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point these commercials were allowed to run without mentioning a single side effect!

So whatever the FDA ultimately decides drugmakers can get away with not saying in these ads, remember: these meds didn’t get any safer, or better. Big Pharma just got away with stuffing the real story about what it’s selling us back into the closet!

“FDA may limit ‘risk info’ in direct-to-consumer TV drug ads” HealthDay News, August 18, 2017, consumer.healthday.com