Thursday, January 30, 2014


Phobe: indicating a person or thing that fears or hates the subject of the precedent root word. If the root word has anything to do with pharmaceuticals, then, yep, that's me. I'm a pharmaphobe. Without a doubt I am pharmapobic!

I know there are many absolutely wonderful discoveries in the war on sickness and disease, and many drugs are indispensable in our daily lives, but I also know I'm being bombarded with an unending marketing assault that dominates television and print media for drugs that have side effects that scare the daylights out of me. I know about chronic conditions that mandate a life-long demand for pharmaceuticals: I am hypertensive.

Why the massive ad campaigns for pharmaceuticals? Profit, of course. It isn't philanthropy, believe me. The big pharma companies wouldn't give away drugs for humanities sake, unless they knew it would create a never-ending demand from the drug, sort of a mandated addiction. Return On Investment, so to speak. Drugs prescribed by your doctor for chronic conditions like high blood pressure or high cholesterol create a cash flow, like an annuity, as long as the consumer, er, patient, stays alive. What a great business model!

What really worries me is a hypertensive doctor friend of ours won't take drugs other than ones for hypertension. She avoids other drugs as much as possible. Most of the people we know in the medical or peripheral businesses avoid flu shots like the plague. If that doesn't send up a red flag, I don't know what will. What bothers me most though, is the massive marketing attack on the average consumer. Seriously, I'm worried about the pharmaceuticals being sold on television today as if they were candy. “Tell your doctor you want this drug!”

Wow! If I have asthma, I can now go fishing with my grandson -- obviously I couldn't go fishing with him before – all I have to do is take a specific drug that I won't mention here. [My lawyer would be impotent against these guys.] If the side effects of this asthma drug don't kill me first, that is. The popular asthma drug lists thirteen symptoms as common side effects and two of them really caught my attention. This constantly advertised drug lists uncommon symptoms that runs another page and a half on their information sheet, and the overdose symptoms listed are outright scary, but side effects number 4, “difficulty with breathing” and number 11, “shortness of breath or troubled breathing” really are eye opening. If I have asthma, why am I taking this drug? Because the advertising said so! Look how happy they all are! Doing things they normally wouldn't do.

Really? I'm supposed to go to my doctor and tell her I want to take a certain drug because I think I may have a certain illness and I am now convinced I have a solution she may not be aware of? Isn't my doctor supposed to know what to prescribe for me when I have a medical condition that warrants that pharmaceutical concoction to be administered to me? Apparently doctors now respond to their patients demands and prescribe whatever feel-good drug now has the biggest marketing and advertising budget.

Listen to the possible side effects that accompany each Hollywood style production shown at exactly the time of day when old fogies like me are most likely to be watching the tube, er, flat screen I mean, and see if chills don't run down your spine.

Don't misunderstand what I'm writing here. Without penicillin, I wouldn't be alive today. Other new generation antibiotics administered when I blew out my appendix recently kept my septic condition from spoiling my life, much less my vacation. But the drugs weren't advertised on TV as imperative, life enhancing products I need to add to my daily regimen just to feel better. Take notes the next time you watch the evening news [only old people watch the evening news!] and see what I mean. I defy you to write down the side effects of any of the many drugs you will see advertised. Some of them even have the side effect of possible death! Wow, I can hardly wait to take some of those!

I have alleviated my reliance on blood pressure medicines by a simple action, weight loss. By losing twenty five pounds I have been able to reduce the drugs I take to keep my blood pressure “normal.'” Diet and physical activities are helping reduce my reliance on the remainder, all I have to do now is quit drinking alcohol. [Now, there's a rub!] With a little self control, I should be able to drop off or drastically reduce the regimen of the other prescription drugs. The first one I dropped off recently had a side effect that wasn't listed in the information sheet: bad breath! I realize many conditions aren't that easily remedied, but, many are.

Why did I pick the asthma drug as my example of pharma mass-marketing? Because they pander to unconscious consumers who think every fisherman has to wear a silly hat and a two hundred dollar fishing vest, carry a state of the art fly rod, then use a 79 cent red and white plastic bobber probably with a worm on the end of a hook! If this multi-million dollar corporation doesn't know anything about fishing, what do they know about anything else? Obviously they know how to market to American television viewers.

How about the million dollar marketing shtick that has two naked people sitting in the middle of field somewhere in old-fashioned cast-iron bathtubs? Aah, nothing like a dose of ridiculous fantasy to make the consumer feel like popping a pill is the answer to life's problems. Marketing chemicals in such a way that the gullible public demands the required prescribers give them what they want is downright scary. They'll probably drive up the market in old-fashioned cast iron bathtubs as well.

Want more information? Go to the FDA website at:

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