I wrote this for my pharmacology class. I hope you find it interesting. I hope it's ok that i disagreed with King slightly in one instance:
Source: Entertainment Weekly : http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1031378,00.html
Date: Feb 01, 2007
Author: Stephen King (Yes, THAT Stephen King. But it really is an interesting article.)
Title of Article: Stephen King on the worst ads on TV
True to his roots, Stephen King begins the article with a horrific make-believe advertisement for thalidomide, the now banned drug that cured morning sickness in pregnant women, but also caused deformities in children. The reason why we never saw advertisements for this drug is for the simple fact that the FDA banned advertisements for prescription drugs in the 1960s and 70s. The wisdom of this policy helped prevent a potential catastrophe of a generation of deformed children. He then goes on to compare this to the lack of wisdom of today’s advertisements which heavily shilled Vioxx before it was taken off the market. According to King and the FDA’s own numbers there is a potential 27,000 people that are no longer alive because of Vioxx. Obviously if it weren’t for the mass-marketing of that drug, those numbers would be a lot less.
King does make a strong case for not advertising drugs. Unless if the morning-sickness is so severe it actually threatens the life of the child or mother it’s almost certainly best to “live with it” than take drugs to prevent it. This is especially so if those drugs are new to the market.
Where I strongly disagree with King is here:
I happen to be one of those folks Kind is deriding here. I use the extremely advertised drug Humira. And contrary to what he says, I’m not using it because I want “Daddy,” to “Make it all better”. I’m extremely aware of the potential dangers, I know that it breaks down the immune system and I know there’s potential for liver damage and a lot of other side effect. Before I started using it I tried a variety of other methods to control my Rheumatoid Arthritis including Physical therapy and a variety of other, less severe, drugs. Yet despite all those efforts it was still agony getting out of bed in the morning and I had to walk with a cane. So I started taking Humira, with my eyes wide open. Now I bike 160 miles a week and am enjoying life a lot more. Can Humira shorten my life? Of course. But then, so can Rheumatoid arthritis. Either way, before Humira I really wasn’t doing that much living.“Americans love a quick fix, and our love affair with snake-oil salesmen probably stretches clear back to the Pilgrims. And when the man says, ''Daddy fix, Daddy make it all better''. . .man, we love that. We love it.”
Advertisements do serve a purpose. They do let people know that there are alternatives to a life of pain. However King does make a very strong point that if a company advertises the wrong drugs and does it in the wrong way it can lead to a lot of unnecessary deaths. Perhaps the compromise is in the way it’s advertised. Despite my story, I don’t necessarily believe everyone should be on humira. If your arthritis is fairly minor it is probably best to stay away. But people should know it’s out there.
Rather than a ban on prescription drugs that King is advocating it would be best to change the way these drugs are advertised. That drug advertisements should be entirely information oriented rather than sales oriented. That is no music, no happy smiling faces, no slogans. It should be as Jack Webb demands, “Just the facts, Mam”. Instead of a rousing chorus of “It’s a beautiful morning” telling us all about how wonderful Humira is, perhaps it should be a doctor in a jacket with a plain background saying, “Here’s a drug that may be work if you suffer from severe arthritis…. Here are the potential problems with it.” No frills, no miracles, just the plain facts that let people in need decide.