by Chet Day
Out of respect for my brain, other than the local and national news, I don’t watch much television.
But it dawned on me Monday evening when I eyeballed the CBS Nightly News broadcast that the pharmaceutical companies have in place an insidious advertising campaign to influence the buying habits of an already drugged-out nation that so blindly relies on the often specious notion that “Doctor knows best.”
While you’re reading, in the back of your mind think about how often you’ve heard the phrase on television commercials, “Ask your doctor” or “My doctor said…”
Note the implied authority in these simple words, two phrases that empower the medical/pharmaceutical industry and weaken self-reliance and self-responsibility.
If memory serves, not too much more than a half dozen months ago, most national news casts were sponsored by advertisements for fast food or candy. Right on the heels of these ads, we’d usually see a spot or two for Tums or Rolaids or some other indigestion or heartburn product.
This junk food/over-the-counter-remedy advertisement pattern has both amused and appalled me since 1993 when I first started noticing it because the pattern so dramatically reflected the cause and effect model of health and disease I write about.
With the health model I follow, when people change their diet and life style and stop eating junk and fast food, most of them find that gas, bloating, heartburn, and other typical physical annoyances go away in a matter of days. (If you don’t believe me, test the 21 Days to Health & Beyond program for three weeks. It’s free and you can download the 240-page book at http://chetday.com/21day.html)
But this past Monday when I watched the news, I realized the old pattern of health-related commercials had changed, and that the large pharmaceutical companies, what I call the American Drug Cartel, now advertised their powerful prescription drugs more convincingly and more efficiently than other companies used to advertise over-the-counter remedies. Do you know what I’m saying?
Think about Viagra for a moment.
I submit the success story of advertising Viagra has opened the floodgates for this new technique of pharmaceutical sales propaganda.
I don’t know about you, but when I see Bob Dole pitching Viagra for his erectile dysfunction or ED, as he calls it, I want to not only put my foot in his mouth to get him to stop embarrassing himself, but I also want to put it through the television screen to protest what the drug companies are trying to do to viewers.
Seeing a former senator of some distinction prostituting himself to peddle a drug with multiple side effects is pretty much enough to gag a maggot, but it gets worse, in my opinion, when, ten minutes later, the Dole ad is usually followed by yet another ED ad. In this one, we see several handsome but impotent guys who suffer erectile dysfunction. Or they at least HAD suffered erective dysfunction.
If we are to believe this particular ad, which I’ve seen as many as four times in thirty minutes, once they started popping Viagra, the men could… well, let’s just say they could once again use the marital bed for more than sleeping.
Oddly enough, though, in this ad, these couples are standing up, smiling at each other, either in the kitchen or out on a dock or in the backyard. And, in the weirdest scene, a good- looking gal sits on the lap of her man, who is confined to a wheelchair. They smile at each other like they’d just taken Regis for a million dollars. Then she crosses her legs and they smile as if the IRS had told them “No more taxes for life.”
I don’t know about you, but I find these Viagra depictions of life and normal relations between men and women downright creepy.
I mean, seriously, between the music and the happy smiles and the slick filming techniques, you’d think these men and women in the commercials hadn’t had sex since Custer made his last stand at the Little Big Horn.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m no prude, but in real life, even at wild college parties back in the 60’s I’ve never seen anyone look as pleased about the idea of a potential roll in the hay as the folks we see in those Viagra spots.
Well, as you can see, I think the Viagra ads are unrealistic, stupid, and insulting to both men and women, but I find downright dangerous and disturbing newer commercials for newer drugs, commercials using the same techniques as the ones Viagra has pioneered and used to sell billions of dollars worth of the world’s most popular ED drug.
For example, the most recent advertisement I saw on Monday during the national news was for a mood-altering drug.
This spot started off showing the viewer a sad-looking woman before segueing into a list of symptoms that she, and no doubt most of the rest of us probably have in modern America a lot of the time: lack of restful sleep, occasional unhappiness, worrying about the future, and so on.
The solution to these serious symptoms, according to this ad?
“Talk to your doctor and see if Drug X isn’t right for you.”
Now, when you realize this ad wants to sell you a powerful, mind-altering drug available only by prescription from a doctor, you may well join me on the high horse of outrage about how the American Drug Cartel now plans to sell even more of their dangerous and expensive wares.
I would imagine many responsible physicians also find this approach offensive since the ad is essentially telling the patient to tell the doctor what he/she wants in a prescription.
Imagine the conversation, “Oh, Doctor, I don’t think daily exercise and cutting back my stress will help my depression. I really think I need Drug X. In fact, that’s what I want.” And what’s the poor doc to do? When many patients are shelling out $75 or more bucks per office visit these days, I can see a lot of doctors writing out the Drug X prescription rather than trying to convince the patient to take a more sensible approach.
Better living through chemistry at Lord knows how many dollars per pill.
Seriously, I think the American Drug Cartel has hit on a real winner with this current approach to selling drugs. Soon they’ll not only be leading the ill of America around with a collar on their neck, but they’ll have the doctors on the same leash.
If you think doctors aren’t influenced by the drug companies, you need to do some homework, believe me.
From reading “Heart Failure: Diary of a Third Year Medical Student” (http://chetday.com/medbook.ZIP), I learned that many members of the medical profession apparently spend as much time in bed with drug salesmen as they do with their wives.
And now the pharmaceutical companies are not only influencing the doctors in this country to prescribe and sell more and more drugs, but in their endless greed they are also going to use television to convince an already drugged-stupid nation to consume even more of their expensive poisons.
Have you ever _really listened_ to some of these modern drug commercials?
Professionally made and psychologically manipulative, they are powerful and convincing.
You can bet an aspirin to a pop of Prozac that the American Drug Cartel wouldn’t be spending big time bucks to advertise on Dan Rather’s nightly news if their ads weren’t pulling in millions of dollars in new sales.
So at this point, we have the American Drug Cartel using the American media to convince the American people to get America’s physicians to prescribe more and more new drugs.
Then, to add insult to injury, we have President Clinton releasing his latest budget, and it’s apparently full of proposals on how we can spend even more tax dollars to buy more drugs for more people.
Since so many politicians spend more than a few nights each year in bed with the American Drug Cartel, you can be sure some of these proposals will find their way into law, and more of our tax dollars will wind up in the wallets of the drugs pushers and those who own stock in their conglomerates.
I don’t know about you, but I think this aspect of our so- called “health care system” stinks like week-old fish on an asphalt basketball court in Dallas in July.
We have a bamboozled and ignorant public that believes drugs will cure their health problems.
We have a medical education system that beats the idealism and humanity out of men and women who initially go to medical school so they can help people.
We have a pharmaceutical system that uses free lunches and weekend “seminar trips” to popular tourist spots to essentially bribe physicians to prescribe drugs that even the AMA admits are killing hundreds of thousands every year.
We have a government that spends more on drug welfare to fund “research” into new drugs than it has ever spent on welfare to feed children and to provide care for the mentally ill.
And now we have the American Drug Cartel using the American media to convince the average person to tell his/her doctor to prescribe even more drugs for what ails them.
I think fish on hot asphalt smells better than this system.
I think it’s past time for each of us do what we can to educate a friend or relative to the fact that we can take charge of our own health and that we don’t need strong drugs advertised on television to be healthy.
I think it’s time to stop the American Drug Cartel in its tracks.
We can do it too if we stop buying their poisons and their lies.