Prescription for dealing with prescription drug ads 3/22/19

These days, it seems like you can’t turn on the tv without listening to a pharmaceutical ad. Now maybe that’s a result of watching things like cable news shows, but still. One day I said to John, you ever notice with these new drugs, how they say “People who are allergic to X shouldn’t take X. No shit.” He said, “I wonder about that all the time. How the hell would you know you’re allergic to something if you’ve never taken that thing?” And so our first comic was born.

This is part of what is known as “fair balance.” And that, dear readers, led us to our second comic. The fair balance is the part that comes after the part when they tell you how wonderful your life will be if you take whatever drug they happen to be hawking. It’s the part with the disgusting and scary list of side effects, such as “anal leakage.” We decided to spare you by leaving that part out of the actual comic.

Now as many of you know, John and I had long careers in advertising. And towards the end, we did a lot of pharma (industry shorthand for pharmaceutical advertising). That’s why we know fancy terms like “fair balance.” True story, we rarely worked together in advertising, but did work in the same agency for the last 10 years or so. It was at that agency that John and his partner came up with a terrific animated campaign for an arthritis drug. After miraculously making it through the myriad testing layers, the campaign aired, everyone was thrilled at the response, and soon there were several more executions ready to move into production. Then a similar drug was found to cause fatal heart attacks. All advertising was pulled…leading to the unceremonious demise of the cheery little animated campaign. Eventually, the drug went back on air but they were required to include the possible fatal side effects in the fair balance So the announcer, with a cheery voice, had to say something like: “People who are allergic to _________ shouldn’t take ________. Side effects may include nausea, lightheadedness and internal bleeding, which in rare cases, can lead to death.” You’re sitting in the recording session saying, “Uhh can you make that death part seem not so dark?”

Oh, and one last thing. in case you never bothered to wrestle with the name, Dis-kure-zitall, is our goof name for “This cures it all.” See you next week.

The New 60