Irresponsible TV Ads


By Patricia Morrill – PM Healthcare Consulting


What type of TV commercials spend more time talking about potential reasons why you shouldn’t buy their product than they do about the benefits?

Any guesses?

That’s right, the answer is – pharmaceutical company advertisements.

Societal Acceptance vs. Bans

Do you remember when there were cigarette smoking ads on TV?  Actually, I found a few of them to be hilarious. I still remember the best ones and the particular brands they were for. I also remember when commercials for attorneys were banned for a period of time.

My point in bringing this up is that I hope someday we can ban drug commercials.  The idea that there is a pill to fix anything at all that bothers you, and that you should go ask your doctor for a prescription for it right now does not promote a healthy lifestyle.

Especially given all the focus on the dangers of opioids in today’s society, we need to tone down the promotion of medications with such serious side effects. It is alarming how the majority of the running time of these advertisements is spent running through the laundry list of the potential problems you may encounter by taking them.

Patient Responsibilities

I consider myself pretty healthy, but I have taken medication to manage my blood pressure for a very long time.  I am thankful that my physician found the perfect combination of two types of drugs that work for me with this family-inherited diagnosis.

Am I the only one that reads the extensive drug information that comes with any prescription from the pharmacy?  Before I take anything new for any reason, I read about it on the pharmacy’s website.

It should be the patient’s responsibility to do the following.

  • Fully understand why a medication is prescribed.
  • Know potential side effects.
  • Keep a current list of all medications, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements and make sure physicians’ records are up-to-date.
  • Make sure physician and pharmacist records include drug allergies or reactions.
  • Talk with a pharmacist about any questions such as drug interactions, side effects, etc.
  • Remove all medications from the home that are no longer being taken and bring them to your local collection locations, such as pharmacies and police stations.

Healthcare Provider Responsibilities

  • Encourage patients to take responsibility for medication management.
  • Provide the education and resources for patients to get the information they need to learn about what has been prescribed for them.
  • Make sure patients have access to physicians, nurses, or other health care professionals in between appointments to discuss medication issues

Medication management is serious and medication errors are frequent. We need physicians, pharmacists and patients to be partners in medication management for the sake of safety.

What we don’t need are rampant TV commercials promoting drugs for every symptom.  This is not helpful for decision making in a heavily medicated society.


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I am passionate about spreading information to make preventable harm more discussable so we can reduce the poor statistic that preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. By integrating Lean and Project Management methodologies, we can implement organizational change more rapidly.

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