Pharmaceutical companies spend an estimated $5 billion on drug ads aimed at consumers. Back in 1997, the Food and Drug Administration in the US began allowing these companies to market their drugs directly to consumers. (I find it interesting that the FDA also receives funding from the drug companies to review new medications fast and get them to market quickly.) Today you cannot watch tv, listen to the radio, or even read a magazine without being bombarded with drug commercials. Lawyers and fast food restaurants move over – billboard space is next.
The ads make lofty claims. You will become a better lover, live a happy-ever-after life, and even go for hours without having to run to the bathroom – awesome.
But it’s not all glitter and gloss. The drug company must list the possible side effects. The list isn’t really there to help educate you on all the risks. No, it’s there in case of a possible lawsuit when they can say, told you so, after one entire side of your body loses feeling and droops, your vision blurs, your tongue turns blue and your throat swells shut.
Here is a shortened list for the drug Abilify, which is being promoted as an add-on drug to treat depression.
“An increased risk of stroke and mini-stroke…very high fever, rigid muscles, shaking, confusion, sweating, or increased heart rate and blood pressure…(neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), a rare but serious side effect which could be fatal)…uncontrollable movements of face, tongue, or other parts of body as these may be signs of a serious condition called tardive dyskinesia (TD)…Increases in blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), in some cases serious and associated with coma or death…Light headedness or faintness caused by a sudden change in heart rate and blood pressure when rising quickly from a sitting or lying position…Decreases in white blood cells (infection fighting cells)…ABILIFY and medicines like it can affect your judgment, thinking, or motor skills…Medicines like ABILIFY® (aripiprazole) can impact your body’s ability to reduce body temperature; you should avoid overheating and dehydration…ABILIFY and medicines like it have been associated with swallowing problems (dysphagia)…”
Scary stuff right? Apparently – not so much. Maybe it’s just too much information. Most people believe the positive claims and seem to ignore the rest. Side effects won’t affect me. Maybe it’s because the commentator reads off the list of risks in a lowered voice at lightening speed while our eyes glaze over and we stop listening. Or maybe it’s because people want the quick fix and to hell with the rest. Just give me my happy pill! Consumers (that’s us) are rushing to their doctors for prescriptions to treat diseases they never knew they had before watching cable tv.
Forget Abilify. You know what else has been proven to greatly decrease depression? Exercise! Ask your doctor if getting off your ass is right for you. (I stole that from Bill Maher)
Stop the madness!