Since this column is supposed to have something to do with writing, I'm confessing that I want to write commercials. Please allow me to vent for a couple of minutes as to why I say that.
I want to rewrite all the prescription commercials that bombard us day and night. I didn’t buy a television set to have it blare at me endlessly about diarrhea, constipation, impotence, light days, adult bed wetting, and on and on, ad infinitum.
During my career as a legal secretary, there was a time, back in the Dark Ages, when the Bar Association’s Code of Ethics said it was unbecoming for an attorney to advertise on TV or anywhere else. Maybe such advertising wasn’t unlawful, but it was frowned upon as leaning toward sleaze. Then suddenly ethics went out the window and attorneys were allowed to advertise.
As strange as it seems to me to now see attorneys promoting their services, their ads are nowhere on the same level as those for drug prescriptions. Half the time you don’t know what the ailment is they're supposedly curing, but somehow you’re supposed to know you need the product. And since it’s only available by prescription, you are told to “ask your doctor.”
Aye, there’s the rub. Since you must see your doctor to get the prescription, why in heaven’s name can’t your doctor tell you its horrendous side effects? Why do we have to hear that Product X can cause dizziness, hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, impotence, diarrhea, bleeding, bruising, and every other horror you can imagine, ending with, “and possibly death.”
I can agree to hearing the adverse reactions of over-the-counter drugs since a buyer probably won’t take the time to read the enclosed instructions. But I’m talking about a drug that you can only get from your doctor and that doctor is supposed to tell you what might happen. If he or she doesn’t, then the pharmacist who fills the prescription is charged with explaining those dire facts to you.
I have a recent Woman’s Day magazine that has 140 pages; thirty of which are ads for prescription drugs. That’s nearly one-quarter of the magazine. It’s not cheap to advertise in magazines and on television, so perhaps if they omitted such ads, they could lower the price of their drugs. What a concept!
Let me write the ads. They would read: “Your doctor is far more educated than you, so tell him or her you have a problem, ask what medicine is recommended and what the side effects are.” Period.
That, I could live with. How about you?