The doctor is too busy to see you

This seems to be the week I pick on commercials, specifically commercials for pharmaceutical products.

I understand the rules governing the advertising of pharmaceutical products differ between Canada and the US.   Now that I have cable, I can see the effects of those different rules.  And I really have to wonder about some of these products being touted.  Can American advertisers really think people are going to consider a product when the announcer is saying something along the lines of “serious side effects can include death”?  Do they honestly believe someone is going to hear this and think “oh well, as long as it does what it’s supposed to do, so what if it may prove fatal”?

As I said, the rules are very different, so as a result, Canadian commercials can be maddeningly vague as to what the product is supposed to accomplish.  Each ad always has, somewhere near the end of it, the request urging to “ask your doctor”, or in some cases “ask your pharmacist”.

If you have a regular family doctor, you know how busy she/he is seeing patients and dealing with the regular running of an office.  Based upon the number of ads for various products, you also probably have some idea of just how many new pharmaceuticals there are out there.  And in Canada, if they advertise these products, in each case, the advertiser exhorts us to “ask your doctor.”

I was speaking with my doctor’s receptionist today, just after she’d taken yet another brochure and business card from a pharmaceutical salesman.  She admitted that most of those that come into this particular doctor’s office go straight into the recycling bin.   During the course of our discussion, I mentioned that if the doctor were to actually read all of these brochures and product monographs, he wouldn’t have time to see patients.

“Ask your doctor”.  Sure.  Oh wait!  I can’t.  He ’s too busy reading all the product literature you keep dumping on him to see patients.

I don’t know when these rules were put in place governing the Canadian advertising of pharmaceuticals, but they are terribly out of date.  Perhaps at one time, with extravagant claims being made about some products, they were necessary, or those in charge of setting advertising standards felt the public couldn’t handle even a brief mention of “erectile dysfunction”.  But, as I’ve commented before, Canada, and those who decide what we may or may not see, read or hear (“Money for Nothing” comes to mind) seem determined to make, and keep Canada as a “nanny society” where Big Brother – the feds; other levels of government, and various advertising boards – has the final say in to what we are exposed.

We can make up our own minds.  Yet it seems the only time we are permitted to do that is during elections.  Once we’ve put these people in power, they seem to feel they know what’s best for us.  Not by a bloody long shot.

Enjoy your week and stay safe.  Remember to hug an artist – we need love too.


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