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Does Drug Advertising Lead to Unnecesary Presciptions

If you do not see a prescription drug ad on television, you cannot have a television. They are everywhere, and they & # 146; convince millions of people who may not need a cure for & # 147; talk to their doctor & # 148; about getting regular with free samples.

The signs of drug advertising seem to be very obvious, they seem to recommend it to anyone who uses their product. Fill in the blank here: if you have _________ for more than four hours, please seek immediate medical attention.

But these blatant warnings aren't the most important feature of advertising. What really sets it apart is the subtle manipulation they use to make you think you need to take it.

See ads for Lipitor, an effective cholesterol lowering drug offered by Pfizer. In their ad, you see a very nice man getting ready to swim, or a glamorous woman emerging from the limousine with a glittering paparazzi lamp.

You & # 146; be told that this is the person who owns it. Not only do they take care of themselves and practice the opposite sex well into middle age, but they may also be rich and famous.

Then, the crowd, they stomach flops to the pool or ride to the red carpet in front of all their fans. We learned them ' not perfect after all. They can dive or walk on high heels, and oh yes, they have high cholesterol.

That's not it. Isn't that just a funny way to introduce medicine? Well, yes, but that's not all the advertising is trying to achieve.

The subtle message here is that even if you live a perfect life, you may still need their medication to lower your cholesterol.

The audience is still thinking, & # 147; I'm sorry. won't get myself to look good no matter how hard I exercise and watch my diet, so why should I try? That's not it. Isn't it better just to stop trying and take the medicine? & # 148;

This, of course, is the wrong message to send to Americans, who need no more reason to sit around and wait for terrible illnesses to be passed on.

High cholesterol levels are a problem. And everyone who has this should try to bring it down. (If your doctor tells you to take a statin like Lipitor, consult his or her pharmacist directly.)

People who have a genetic susceptibility to cholesterol are too high, but not a majority. In fact, a website sponsored by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey estimates that family hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol genetic) affects only 1 in 500 people: ( 10_adult.htm) .

But the simple fact is that cholesterol can almost always be lowered by a combination of exercise and a lower diet in saturated fat.

The drug companies give them lip service, but they do it in a way that almost runs out of lines - & # 147; exercise, eat better, yada, yada, yada & # 148; - knowing that Americans will never change that habit anytime soon. (Likewise, cigarette manufacturers know that they can run all anti-smoking ads that the government wants them to have little impact on sales.)

There will be people who need to take cholesterol lowering drugs, and we should thank companies like Pfizer for their help. (The author takes Pfizer's prescription product and will have a lower quality of life without it.)

However, statins are a powerful drug, and powerful medications often have harmful side effects that may be avoided. With all statins, there is a danger of permanent nerve damage known as neuropathy. Neuropathy causes pain and tingling in the legs, as well as loss of sensation, when the nerves stop functioning. Amputation is normal in this situation.

A study in Sweden showed that two years of statin use increased the risk of developing peripheral neuropathy by 26%.

Given these statistics alone, it is best to emphasize that most people will be able to control their cholesterol through proper diet and exercise programs. We may not look like models and actors who claim to have cholesterol problems, but perhaps we can get better health without drug intervention.


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