Dear Pharmaceutical Advertisers:
I know you revel in the fact the United States is practically the only developed country in the world that allows direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals. I also know the economy would surely collapse if you didn’t spend so much of your hard-earned money advertising relentlessly to entice us to use your products. (Ironic if the economy did collapse we’d surely all need at least some of your offerings)
Which brings us to the point of my letter…side effects. I have a suggestion for you. In your goal of outlining all the things that could go wrong when trying to make yourself right on these drugs, maybe you should consider the best use of your dollars and the most effective way to sell your drugs.
For me at least, when I am viewing or listening to one of your ads and nine-tenths of it deals with possible side effects, that can be a buzz kill for selling me on the product. Especially if one of the side effects is actually to be killed.
This is not conducive to getting most folks on board with buying what you are trying to fix us of. Death is a fairly substantial side effect, wouldn’t you agree?
Now, I know you are trying to a) cover your backsides and b) adhere to the spirit of the Drug Marketing Act calling for a balance between the risks and benefits of the drugs you are marketing. I get that. It’s just that after being bombarded over the last few years with ad after ad talking about a myriad of medical malaises (which in some cases likely could be diagnosed as “getting older, deal with it”)…well…maybe you should just sit back…watch…and listen to yourselves.
By the time your ads are done playing I have to believe most viewers/listeners do not even remember what the medication is for. (Which probably leads them to begin worrying they need medication for not remembering…)
Look, if so many things can go wrong when you take something that is supposed to make you right…how about confining all of your advertising efforts to the print media?
I’ve seen fine examples where you take two pages worth of ad space in a newspaper or magazine…or one of those promotional pieces you have in the doctor offices. One page is devoted to what the condition is and what you are selling to address it…the other page lists all the potential side effects leading up to and including Death.
I think this would be a much smarter way to entice all of us to purchase your drugs. We could digest the information much more effectively than in thirty or sixty-second snippets…in which most all of the time is spent discussing side effects including Death. We could put it aside and go back to it for reference any time we choose. We could even choose only to read the left hand side about the conditions and the fix…and not the right hand side…of side effects.
Heck, we might even accidentally skip over that nasty ol’ right hand side about side effects. You can honor your requirement to the Feds…and we aren’t bombarded by all the negatives to purchasing your meds.
It just seems to me when you incur that tremendous expense for television and radio advertising and almost the entire time is taken up yakking about all those side effects – including Death – it can’t help sales and you certainly are not getting a return on investment considering the huge cost. If we truly need all these items you’re marketing right now it is in both your and ours best interest you concentrate on the more cost-effective print advertising option to get the word out.
Don’t just think newspapers and magazines here. How about you start flooding mailboxes with those promotional pieces?
This can only help get the word out more efficiently. You have a better chance of making more sales if you “quietly” meet your obligation to let us know about side effects including Death.
Newspapers, magazines, mail pieces. Especially the mail. I hope you see the value in this and begin to divert more advertising dollars accordingly.
Postmaster General, U.S. Postal Service