Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fear and Loathing on Madison Avenue

Madison Avenue and Big Pharma have managed to instill the greatest fear since toxic bad breath and ring around the collar into an activity that is supposed to be supremely enjoyable. Men of a certain age, concerned with their own mortality now fear the FOUR HOUR ERECTION!
“It is the easy and safe solution to treat that embarrassing problem affecting men in the intimate relationships with their loved ones. Contact your doctor and see if it is right for you.”
Picture a handsome middle-aged couple sitting together in the moon light. Their youth is gone, but their desire remains. (It’s a lot like my Honey Bunch  and me.) He slowly leans toward her (if she hands him a shopping list and a “honey do” list it would be EXACTLY like my Honey Bunch and me) and a rapid voice-over drowns out both the music and the mood.
“Possible side effects  are generally minor and may include: hair loss, flu, infection requiring hospitalization, bleeding gums, dry eyes, dry skin and dry scalp, constipation, weight loss, weight gain, both high and low blood pressure, bad breath, rashes,  heart, liver and kidney failure, respiratory distress, internal bleeding and the unexplained loss of the ability to parallel park.”
Sound familiar? The airwaves are flooded with new medicines designed to cure and treat everything from allergies  to impotency. The new name for impotency is ED. I have no idea what it has to do with that MSNBC show on social and political commentary hosted by Mr. Schultz, but that would be a matter for him and his lawyers to discuss. Linking him to limpness and sexual malfunction has to provide a cause of action somewhere.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the side effects portions of all of the medical ads do cause some concern. A hair restorer has, as a potential side effect, sexual dysfunction. Men take this drug (and wait-out the promised sprouts by buying  cheap toupees) to make them MORE attractive to women. If a potential side effect of sparse hair patches is the failure of the plumbing to properly function, I think that a problem presents itself and I would hesitate to call this possible problem minor. If a potential side effect is heart failure and infections requiring hospitalization, I have to ask myself if Cabbage Patch doll hair is really worth the risk.
Anyway, the new medicines will also cure or help hair loss, arthritis and heartburn. Millions of people are affected by these problems and the medicines come as a welcome and blessed relief—I think. 
When the Food and Drug Administration loosened the controls on drug companies and allowed them to advertise prescription medication on TV, the companies had to list possible side effects under full disclosure and truth in advertising. 
The first question has to be: why are they advertising to the general public for a medicine that requires a doctor’s prescription? How about we ban all medical ads and let them use the savings to reduce the price of the drug? Any advertising should be informational ads in medical publications, not in the middle of “Jeopardy.”
According to the census we just completed, there is one lawyer for every single man, woman and child in America. Big Pharma must provide warnings and disclaimers to protect their corporate behinds no matter how slight the risk.
That side effects sheet (in tiny print with chemical formulas) that your druggist gave you (and few of us ever read) is now read rapidly by an announcer as our ED couple joins hands in separate bath tubs on the edge of a cliff. 
If they are bathing in public in separate, but adjoining, tubs on the edge of a cliff it would seem that ED is only part of their problem.
Anyway, they join hands prepared to enjoy the renewed vigor and the reestablishment of an important part of their lives together. As the ad fades out, he is warned that an erection lasting more than 4 hours is not something to celebrate, it is something that can kill or maim. I think that worrying about that could be a real buzz kill, but I’m sure they have a pill for that.
I also pray that he is not suffering from  both hair loss and intimacy problems. If he is, and also has allergies, the combination of medicines may make him hairy, sexually active, hay fever free and DEAD.
There is currently a medicine that will help you sleep and can cause suicidal thoughts and a medicine that will help you stop smoking and can cause suicidal thoughts...and they said that smoking in bed was the thing to worry about.
Another medicine is designed to treat an anxiety disorder. One of the possible side effects is sexual dysfunction and suicidal thoughts. Gee, let me see if I have this right: I take a pill to help with anxiety and it causes me to have undefined sexual dysfunctions — no possible anxiety there, and thoughts of suicide. Even if the anxiety pill does not cause the listed possible side effects, most people susceptible to anxiety disorders would probably worry that it will. And what would you call the FEAR that the side effects may occur? Could it be — ANXIETY?  
If I’m not mistaken they are saying that their pill will both cause and cure the same problem. Wouldn’t it make sense to cut out the cost and the  pharmacist and take your best shot with undiluted panic and fear? Besides, I’m Irish. We’ve dealt with anxiety disorders for a thousand years with a good shot or three of Bushmills and never needed a doctor’s prescription. (Possible side effects of the Irish Cure are: headache, flu like symptoms, the mistaken impression that you can dance and sing, the unexplained loss of your pants and the mistaken impression that members of the opposite sex find you attractive. Do not operate either machinery or your mouth while taking this cure. These side effects are often not all that mild, but will generally disappear 8 to 10 hours after your last dose.)
Allergy medicines advertise that, while they may help with your allergies, they may cause dry mouth, sore throat, and dry eyes. What exactly are the symptoms of an allergy attack? Could it be dry mouth, sore throat, and dry eyes?
All of the medicines compare the incidents of side effects to clinical tests where some of the participants are given sugar pills (placebo). First of all, who takes sugar pills? Second, if you are taking sugar pills then you probably are in need of one of the 10,000 or so weight loss products advertised every 10 seconds, everywhere. Their primary side effect is painful and embarrassing gastric distress. 
The diet aids post their warning and disclaimer in letters under the attractive young woman who lost 75 pounds just in time for her high school reunion. The diet aid disclaimer says: Her results are not typical and, in fact, you have no chance in hell of losing 75 pounds in time for your high school reunion. Resign yourself to the fact that you will live and die as a really large person.
Disclaimers are not just for medicines and diet aids. Sport Utility Vehicle ads show some guy going up a climbing wall, dodging boulders and logs at 60 miles per hour in his SUV. The viewer gets all excited about the ability to climb mountains and barely notices the disclaimer on the bottom of the screen. It  says that it is a closed course with a really well trained professional driver and that you should not try to climb walls in your car at home.  The warning makes the ad just a tad misleading. You just decided to buy that overpriced gas hog BECAUSE it can climb mountains.  If it can’t climb the wall, why are they showing it scale Everest? It can’t be just a cynical ploy to get you to buy something that they admit is dangerous if used as advertised?
Enough on disclaimers and warnings. Oh, I almost forgot, almost none of these products can be taken or used if you are pregnant, think you might be pregnant, would like to be pregnant, are worried that you are pregnant, are young enough to get pregnant, have ever been pregnant, have ever known any one who was pregnant, or are nursing.

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