"Side effects may include …"

I don’t think pharmaceutical advertisers should be required to include medical disclaimers in their television commercials.

You know what I’m talking about—“Side effects may include nausea, bloating and diarrhea …” “Be sure to tell your doctor if …”Do not take this medication if …”

Requirements to include these warnings are based on the fallacy that the advertising will sell the product. The advertising is a small piece of the sell, and the doctors and product literature, which are also part of the sell, can fill in the warnings. Why should the rest of us have to listen to that unpleasant information? After all, a campaign might be successful and still have 99%+ of viewers not in the target audience. So don’t make the rest of us listen to that stuff. The video of happy patients is insufferable enough.

I’m all for protecting patients. But let’s not inflate the power of the ads—which don’t function in a vacuum. Let the doctor do the dirty work when only the interested patient is listening. (If he can’t be trusted to do that he shouldn’t be trusted to prescribe the medication. TV commercials do not exist to protect us from doctors.)

Steve Yastrow posted this on April 3, 2006, in Marketing.
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