Drug Warnings

What in the world do they say?

Whenever I want to find out the latest in the world of medicine I just tune into the evening news.  I think there is now an FCC ruling whereby only drug ads can be shown by the news media.  Everything else has to wait until prime time.  I suppose the reason for this is because only people over 40 years of age watch the news anymore, and this is the market the drug manufacturers are after.

The drug ads are aimed at treating everything from heartburn, to cancer, to cholesterol, to erectile disorders, and everything in-between.  We probably have a pill for just about everything which we inevitably see during the evening news.  Interestingly, all of the drug ads seem to be the same (and I suspect only one ad agency produces them).  The first half is spent painting a rosy picture of how their product can solve our problems, but the last half is spent with warnings required by the FDA of the possible side effects.  Unlike the first half where the narrator cheerfully articulates the product, the warnings are reviewed at a fast clip, kind of like a car salesman on the radio.  The dialog by the announcer goes so fast that we only grasp a couple of words clearly, such as “possible side effects include…” and “consult your doctor before taking…”

It bothers me that I cannot fully grasp all of the warnings, so, as a public service, I’ve done some research and compiled the warnings into a single statement for your use:

“Do not take while awake or asleep.  Should be taken one hour before or after either eating or vomiting.  Possible side effects include a six hour erection, dizziness, memory loss, acute depression, shortness of pants, lack of appetite, a compulsion to shop at WalMart, nausea, er, ah…did I mention memory loss?  Consult your doctor before taking.  He isn’t doing anything right now and doesn’t mind innocuous telephone calls in the middle of the night.  His number is 800-325-3535.  Go ahead, call and wake him up right now; it’s only 3:00am.  If you cannot sleep, why should he?”

Now play that warning back at twice the speed and you get an idea what we, the consumers, comprehend.  Here’s a better idea; why not just tell the public to read the instructions before using the drug?  And write the instructions in terms John Q. Public can understand, and not just the attorneys for the drug companies?

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a freelance writer and management consultant located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. As an avid writer and speaker, Tim discusses everything from business and management, to politics and morality, to systems and technology, and our ever changing world.