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From Poppin' Fresh to Poppin' Pills

 I ran into my friend Rose, the other day, and asked how she’d been. She said she was stressed because her mom was ill. I politely inquired about her condition like I was CNN’s Sanjay Gupta.

She’d been diagnosed with moleopothy— a sudden eruption of hairy moles on her face. After my initial gasp of horror and an urge to make a werewolf reference, I asked if the doctor prescribed Molezympica. She said “yes” and immediately I went into my fair balance spiel. 


I told her to monitor for side effects and discontinue use if her mom has sudden onset unibrow, drooping nipples, howling at the full moon, undressing by fire hydrants, a desire to eat meals in the basement or if one of her moles starts talking. 


I inquired if her mom had any pets? The most adverse reaction is extreme and deadly flatulence fatal to pets under 30 pounds. Rose looked concerned and said  Mr. Sniffles, a chihuahua, had been staggering around the house.


“How do you know all this drug information?” she asked.


“TV commercials,” I answered. 


Big Pharma has taken over the air waves. I watch a fair amount of cable news programs and see all the latest, greatest drugs. Also, watching shows On Demand forces you to view ads, taking away the power to fast-forward. I hold the remote feeling like a eunuch at a strip club. So, I’m happy for my DVR and streaming channels because I’m unshackled by commercials. I can take a break from TV’s drug addiction. 


Growing up, TV ads were about food and household products— not pills. They were filled with jaunty jingles and brand personalities that made products desirable. I wasn’t concerned if Mr. Whipple was busy squeezing the Charmin because he had uncontrolled muscle movement or if Mrs. Olsen was trying to sell Folgers Coffee to meet her copay for alopecia medication. I wanted to buy the world a Coke, not give it type 2 diabetes. 


Now, consumers are urged to talk to their doctors about drugs that could be effective for a disease they might have. Bring your wish list for Dr. Santa to fill. Health insurance plans make it easier for a physician to write a prescription than to schedule tests. Take two tablets a day because an MRI requires a preauthorization, your fingerprints, a papal blessing, a secret handshake and your firstborn. 


Recent pop songs are repurposed into jingles for ads. Nothing is original. Why is the woman with osteoporosis dancing through the park to  “I’m Walking on Sunshine”? What’s playing when the EMT’s are picking her up off the jogging path— “Oops!...I Did It Again”?


I was happy knowing “My Bologna Has a First Name” or that “I Am Stuck on Band-Aids.”

Tell Salt-N-Pepa I don’t need to “Push It” with GEICO or stop the creepy DuckDuckGo guy singing the internet is watching with “Every Breath You Take.” What happened to Sting? Is he waiting in the wings to sing “King of Pain” for a Vicodin ad?


TV product mascots were better when I was growing up. The Pillsbury Dough Boy made me want to buy crescent rolls and I’m still waiting for the Kool-Aid Man to bust through my wall forcing me to drink a pitcher of his sugary contents. A lizard with the cockney accent isn’t selling me insurance, but it’ll force me to call the Orkin man. 


In the ‘90s, I learned silly words like Farfegnugen from Volkswagen commercials. Now, I’ve heard of Sulfonylurea, Corticosteriods, Serotonin and NSAIDs— just to list a few. Every time I turn on the TV, I’m enrolled in an online pharmacology course. 


Madison Avenue has taken us from farm to pharmaceutical. Billions of dollars are spent on drug ads every year. Since the pendulum has swung, I’m glad that they’re not combining produce and pills in commercials together. I certainly don’t need to know that The Jolly Green Giant has erectile disfunction (ED). That would be a big blue pill. 


Do I really want to hear about ED before I watch Raise the Titanic? And, what’s the deal with the Cialis ad? I think sitting in separate bath tubs and holding hands is not the cure. I guess there’s something about the plumbing I don’t get or porcelain speeds the process.  


Pharmaceuticals rule the airwaves and lobbyists control D.C. politicians. I’d love to see some legislation about curtailing drug ads like they removed cigarette commercials. When they run through all the side-effects of medications, it sounds worse than taking a drag on a Marlboro. It’s all out of control and gives me anxiety. So, until I can turn on the TV and see Snap, Crackle and Pop instead of ADHD, COPD and IBS, I’m asking my doctor for LSD. 


















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