Better Living Through Chemistry?

The TV airwaves are filled with commercial messages, and in recent years some have become disturbing. For instance, in the interstice for commercials between breaks in many programs, one may be presented with several ads promoting one or another pharmaceutical product promising to enhance one’s health. Ironically, the side effects cautions accompanying these products are far more frightening than the disorder they promise to cure.

Listen carefully when you are next exposed and expect to hear, among others, some of the following potential side effects:

Vomiting; diarrhea; headaches; shortness of breath; damage to a fetus; stroke; dizziness; belly pain. Most of the side effect symptoms are accompanied by a rapid, soothing voice suggesting that the viewer contact their physician–that is, if you can breathe. Conditions and symptoms to be addressed by these chemical compounds range from psoriasis to cancer to diabetes to HIV to asthma among others.

As part of the sales pitch, pharma companies and these ads often carry offers of cut-rate prices. And, if you cannot afford your medication, _____ may be able to help. However, the most strident and offensive elements are the concocted names of the products. It’s almost as if pharmaceutical companies hired the folks who name autos (maybe they do?). Here are some of the more frequently appearing products, in no particular order:

Ibrance             Jardiance             Devato               Dupixent             Botox

Xeljanz             Biktarvi                 Ocrenus             Skyrizi               Claritin             

Trulicity           Truvada               Juvederm           Xyzal                 Nuplazid          

Entresto            Humira               Epclusa               Chantix               Piqray             

Descovy             Mavyret               Otuzla                Xofluza

In addition to being difficult or impossible to pronounce, it is not possible to determine from such concocted nomenclature what conditions are the target of the particular medication. Most (71% of those named above) have three syllables. Better for remembering? And a few have noticeable name-related connections, such as Claritin-clarity, Trulicity and Truvada-truth, and Entresto-trust. This is certainly no accident.

Virtually all require a physician’s prescription, which is one safety feature in their use.  However, it is not difficult to imagine a patient pleading with a physician to prescribe a product promoted on television–which is exactly the point of the advertising. Combine this with drug reps visiting doctors’ offices with free samples, and you have quite a scheme aimed at the unsuspecting patient. It’s a brave (new?) world of better living through chemistry–and television.








Categories: Issues, Local, National

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