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Sonoma County Gazette
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Medicine By Media?

Aug 2, 2018
by Zoë Tummillo, Communications Concepts


What fairly new idiocy is raining down on unsuspecting souls who just want to watch a favorite TV show—not have an on-air doctor’s visit?Medical advice thru pharmaceutical advertising, that’s what!

Everything from simplistic solutions to sweeping medical advisories are streaming at us on TV commercial breaks. In pseudo counseling sessions, viewers are encouraged to nag their real medical professionals for remedies recommended by actors and drug “providers” promising miracles.

We’re further advised not to forget to tell your doctor about all your existing conditions, including allergies. (HUH? Doesn’t your doctor know all that?) The claims are amazing, and conclude with a litany of risks and reactions ranging from simple headaches all the way to death! (Indeed! It’s enough to scare you to death.)

The best arrogance is advising us to advise—even scold—our own medicos concerning what they should be prescribing us. Do the vulnerable viewers among us notice that the cart is pushing the horse?

If the ironies were not so shamefully dangerous, it would be amusing. Deliberately and recklessly transposing the average patient as technical medication advisor to their knowledgeable professional is risky business.

I totally support full participation in one’s medical care and solutions! It’s healthy, crucial, and smart to push back for accountability and explanations! However, competing with your medical professional’s credentials might just be a fool’s game!

It’s a blurred line.

In my opinion, this phenomenon is in the snake-oil-promotions category. Medicine by media is a lot like relationships by Internet: Just enough detachment to absolve responsibility. No accountability, no foul! (Don’t forget, a lot of this stuff can be purchased elsewhere, behind your Doc’s back!)

Common sense and what was sometimes called “covered wagon medicine,” is something oldsters can relate to. Not only were miracle medicines, drugs, advanced therapies and unbelievable surgeries things of a distant future, communication and transportation was greatly limited. Many times, self-help was all one had available to make do.

I think these TV pharmaceutical promoters think we are a bunch of numbskulls! Obviously, they want us to nag our doctors, but where should the lines be drawn? Romanticizing and promoting highly potent products (involving questionable effects and very serious risks) sure doesn’t speak to integrity in advertising.

I don’t think I’m alone in noticing the irresponsible part of this issue. It takes advantage of what the average person may not know (or know how to interpret) about the chemical dark sides of such products. Rather, they try to gloss it over, promoting hope from behind masked opportunism.

We need to think more than twice, and remember that tired old adage: If it seems too good to be true it probably is!


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