It has been a long time since I have seen live TV with commercials, but this past weekend we were out of town and turned on the TV in our hotel room. After 2 sets of commercials, I could not believe the number of drug commercials and the repetition of them in such a short time frame. (The US and New Zealand are the only countries in the world that allow direct to consumer advertising for drugs- this should be illegal in our country as well).
Drugs that have been heavily promoted to consumers have also been linked to safety advisories, FDA black-box warnings, and withdrawals from the market. J. Michael Pearson, the CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals has enraged the internet after saying in a recent interview with MSNBC that “his company’s responsibility is to its shareholders, not the customers who rely on his drugs...” The average American television viewer watches as many as nine drug ads a day, totaling 16 hours per year, which far exceeds the amount of time the average person spends with a doctor guiding their health decisions.
There is a time and place for medication in crisis care, but there is no place for medication when it comes to health. It is important to remember that every medication comes with a list of side effects. The goal with medication should be to get off them as quickly as possible by taking responsibility for every aspect of your health that you can control.
DR. ERIN ZOVATH