We have a use­ful, but pos­si­bly fa­tal, drug for that

PressReader - BRUCE_CAROL_ROWE Channel - We have a use­ful, but pos­si­bly fa­tal, drug for that
It was ei­ther the Mir­a­cle Spring Wa­ter or Pey­ronie’s Dis­ease that did me in. Nei­ther sent me scream­ing into some padded room, but it was close. In the end, Pey­ronie’s Dis­ease and the ad­ver­tis­ing for its “cure” left me gob­s­macked. Who was Pey­ronie and why at­tach his name to a con­di­tion re­sult­ing in a crooked erect pe­nis caus­ing pain and dis­com­fort dur­ing in­ter­course? (François Gigot de la Pey­ronie, who re­ceived his diploma as a French bar­ber-sur­geon in 1695.)Weighed in the balance, I sup­pose it was sort of tit for tat, given the never-end­ing ads for “women’s prob­lems,” in­clud­ing Poise and De­pends and all the other adult pads and di­a­pers show­ing well-dressed, happy, laugh­ing women wet­ting them­selves or barely mak­ing it to the ladies in time. Then again, maybe it was time for men to be em­bar­rassed on the pub­lic air­waves.In case any­one is in­ter­ested in free­dom from “the bondage of debt,” there’s al­ways the Mir­a­cle Spring Wa­ter sent to you Ab­so­lutely Free. This is of­fered to the gullible pub­lic from the hands of some over-po­maded slick spokesman who refers to it as a “faith tool” de­signed to bring in scads of money. The ad is ac­com­pa­nied with Real Life tes­ti­mo­ni­als from teary-eyed peo­ple who drank the wa­ter and re­ceived — al­most im­me­di­ately, Lord bless — cheques in the mail.No, it’s the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ads that spend the most and of­fer the most hope. Of course, no one ever looks re­ally sick and dy­ing, but the fear is still there.Spend­ing any length of time in the United States watch­ing network tele­vi­sion should make any Cana­dian grate­ful for CBC, CTV, Global and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Why? Be­cause the ad­ver­tis­ing of pre­scrip­tion drugs is mostly barred from Cana­dian air­waves.By the time one has watched a mind-bog­gling ar­ray of strangely named drugs and heard the sotto voce recita­tion of the pos­si­ble side-ef­fects, most of which are hor­ri­fy­ing, in­clud­ing death and the equally nasty “anal leak­age,” the need for some other form of en­ter­tain­ment be­came painfully ob­vi­ous.This led to a marathon bing­ing of Law and Or­der. It didn’t save me from the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ads, but it was a sat­is­fy­ing way to spend a rainy day in Hawaii, given the other choices. In a plethora of tele­vi­sion chan­nels, it is un­be­liev­able that what is be­ing de­liv­ered to the watch­ing pub­lic is petty, jeal­ous and drunken rage mas­querad­ing as “re­al­ity” (Bridezil­las); self-ag­gran­dize­ment (Keep­ing Up With The Kar­dashi­ans) and just plain eye-rolling vul­gar and pa­thetic (My 600-Pound Life).This is not to men­tion the news chan­nels whose un­end­ing cov­er­age of the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent fits all of the above cat­e­gories and then some.But all of that inanity can’t hold a can­dle to med­i­cal mar­ket­ing, worth $30 bil­lion a year. In that year, the av­er­age tele­vi­sion watcher is ex­posed to 30 hours of drug ad­ver­tis­ing.I counted more than 20 unique pre­scrip­tions be­fore los­ing track and be­com­ing dis­cour­aged. But even a short list is mind-blow­ing: Rex­ulti pre­scribed for de­pres­sion. A side-ef­fect? Risk of death in dementia pa­tients. There’s Vray­lar for bipo­lar dis­or­der; side-ef­fects can in­clude weight gain and pos­si­ble death. Breo for asthma; pos­si­ble side-ef­fects, death or hos­pi­tal­iza­tion.But who pays at­ten­tion to the quiet and quickly enun­ci­ated side-ef­fects when the drugs are pre­sented as the an­swer to any dread dis­ease?Christo­pher Lane, in Psy­chol­ogy To­day writes: “Ever since the FDA in 1997 re­laxed its rules on phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ad­ver­tis­ing ... the amount spent on TV ad­ver­tis­ing has risen in­cre­men­tally by hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars each year, driv­ing up me­dia costs that are then passed on to those pa­tients and con­sumers, cre­at­ing a cli­mate rife with over-di­ag­no­sis and over-med­i­ca­tion. The United States and New Zealand are the only ad­vanced economies to al­low such ad­ver­tis­ing.”The drug lobby will ar­gue it’s pro­vid­ing much-needed in­for­ma­tion about “mir­a­cle cures” and the free mar­ket should rule. That “free mar­ket” has re­sulted in such atroc­i­ties as a 200 per cent in­crease in the cost of in­sulin from 2002 to 2013, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion.The max­i­miza­tion of profit at the ex­pense of pa­tients who have no choice but to use med­i­ca­tion may be le­gal, but it cer­tainly isn’t moral.But who in the Amer­i­can ad­min­is­tra­tion chooses moral­ity over money?

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