Day 20: Advertisements, Part 2

One of the side effects of a completely and utterly dysfunctional healthcare system is that people don’t go to a GP for anything other than the most serious of problems, simply because they cannot afford it. So a lot of self-diagnosis happens (the consequences of this in the hypochondriac culture which is – no pun intended – pandemic across the western world are serious and also worth consideration, though I don’t intend to do that unless I get bored and have nothing to write about some other day). Thankfully, those lovely pharmaceutical companies are on hand to help you make a choice as to what medicine is right for you (comedy option: “take all the drugs?” “take ALL the drugs!”). And this is where the bits between the shows on American television strays from a bit different to outright bloody surreal.

The formula is so precise and unchanging between each ad, you easily get confused. They ask if you’ve ever had a certain, horoscope-level ambiguous feeling, or get somebody – usually either an elderly person/couple (for Medicare-deductible drugs), or a woman who looks like she’s in her mid-40s but is made up to look in her late-30s – to talk about when they felt that thing. Then they’ll talk up the medicine as the cure to that, as well as a half dozen other maladies and general less-than-excellent feelings. It usually has one or more of the last three letters of the alphabet in its name. This usually takes up the first half to two-thirds of the ad. And then, the disclaimers.

Okay, so in as lawsuit-happy a culture as the US is, I can understand why these things are necessary. But they’re completely bizarre and cause you to wonder why anyone would take the drug in the first place. When twenty-five seconds of a minute long ad is taken up by a soothing female voiceover telling you that “people who use x may experience side effects including lack of sleep, diarrhea, dizziness and heart attacks or in extreme cases, death”. I’m not making a word of that up.

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