Direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising has been hotly debated since it started.

Currently, the FDA requires prescription drug makers to mention all benefits and risks of the drug being advertised. This presents the viewer with a litany of potential harms, both major and minor.

55 seconds of the commercial is telling you how wonderful the drug is, how it will change your life, enable you to win the lottery, etc. – with 5 seconds of some guy’s voice listing 40 side effects so fast that, if we get anything out of it, it is that we are impressed by the speed of his speech.

A new approach being considered by the FDA would trim those lists to feature only the most serious and potentially fatal side effects. This is a good idea, as none of us listen to the lists when they all sound the same.

If a drug commercial focuses on the fact that you may die from taking it – maybe it will cause us to pause before “asking our doctor” about it. This, by the way is, in and of itself, a fallacy, as your doctor has been trained in the potential benefits of the drug, while quickly reviewing the risks.

Direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising is a problem. I would highly encourage you to listen to those ads just as you listen commercials for toilet paper, as in the “end”, they are very similar.

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