The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Medication Commercials – Are They Out of Hand?

We’ve all watched them, and most of us with a chronic illness have had a laugh or even a shout out to the TV. I’ve shared my irritation in the past that a person with rheumatoid arthritis (my illness) can be shown in a commercial from being practically bed-ridden to playing tennis and swinging the racquet over her head in what appears to be just days if not hours.

And most of us have been told by a well-meaning friend “I saw a commercial for ___. Have you tried that?” (Answer: Yes, I’ve been on it for 10 years… that and steroids and anti-inflammatories, and vocdoin and about 10 other things that would freak you out if I started listingthem…)

No, just kidding. I don’t actually say that part out loud and explain all that but I have said, “Life is not like the commercials.”

Here is some news:

Defenders of the direct-to-consumer drug advertising say this is a way to educate consumers and let them know of medical advances. But some critics say the ads do great harm, and reflect a pharmaceutical industry that has run amok.

This article/opinion piece from the New York Times has a debate on this issue with some key people. If you are interested in what the future of drug commercials could be, it’s an interesting piece to read.

Participants include:

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  Father Daniel Beegan wrote @

I have multiple chronic illnesses and what might be an effective drug for one could clash with medication for another. Consequently, I’m much more comfortable leaving it to my doctor and pharmacist what I am prescribed.

I feel prescription drugs should NOT be advertised to the public, especially what I call lifestyle drugs, such as Viagra, Propecia, etc. If drug companies want to advertise, let them do ads focusing on a disease, ailment or syndrome and tell people to see their doctor, NP, or PA without mentioning a specific drug.

  Sherry Cortese wrote @

I have fibromyalgia and have taken issue with drug advertisements. I look at the people who are in the ads and claim to have the ailment. I know its just a commercial, however, in something pertaining to health I think its important to be truthful. Those thin, able bodied people do not reflect the majority of us who have this “disability”. My first reaction is not to run out and get a perscription but to be disdainful of the advertiser. It only gives fuel to the naysayers in my life. They point and say, “See, look at that woman! She works. She’s lifting heavy plants in nursery. It’s mind over matter.” I don’t need any more of that kind of sympathy. Those of us who are suffering must be given credit for trying to help ourselves. Naturally, when a new drug comes out with wonderful claims my first response is to investigate and look at the side effects. I don’t react well to drugs in the first place. So for me to try something that worsens symtoms is not very smart. The fibro drug causes more fatigue and, God forbid, weight gain. No thanks. I am 50 pounds overweight without any “help”. My very kind husband pointed to a thin lady in a fibro commercial and saracastically said, “No way she has fibromyalgia!” Thanks Honey. And thank you Lyrica.

  Stephanie Staker wrote @

My feeling is that if a drug is advertised on TV, I won’t take it! Now I know that is probably narrow-minded of me but just listening to the “common” side effects scare me. These are all fairly new drugs and, as far as I am concerned, there is not enough known about them….long-term side effects, for example. I was prescribed just about every NSAID known and left with a hiatal hernia, GERD, acid reflux disease, etc. and can’t take any of them now. I don’t even want to know what they have done to my liver, kidneys, etc. Psychotropic drugs such as anti-depressants have no business being advertised…we all have anxiety, depression, etc. for a variety of reasons but the ads give the impression of “take a pill” and you’ll feel better. Chronically ill people such as us know those emotions all too well but the drugs out there are really risky. I think medication ads should be banned.

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