How in the heck are they expecting these commercials to sell drugs? They have 20 seconds of what they can do for you, and 40 seconds of what they can do TO YOU.

And it’s not just like “headaches and fatigue” and “stomach cramps and bloody stool” like I remember from years ago.

Take Ambien CR, for instance. (Or “Take at your own risk” I should say.)

They started with pretty benign stuff. Don’t try to drive or run that forklift and such, at least until you know how the drug is going to work on you. Not so bad. I’d expect some allergy meds to have similar warnings.

Then they go straight on to sleepwalking with eating or driving without memory of the event. Oh, and they say this so calmly, like dad reading you a bed time story or that sweet tenured college professor that clearly doesn’t shower talking about what life was like when he was a boy. Driving… in your sleep… and you wake up somewhere without memory of how you got there? And they try to call that SLEEPWALKING!?! The sleep eating is scary enough. I have lousy portion control as it is, but having to put a combination lock on the fridge to keep from eating myself out of house and home seems so small in comparison to driving to 7-11 for a box of donuts, a big gulp and a pack of cloves in my dreams, then waking up with red jelly on my shirt and white powder all over my face.

Keep in mind that those who already have some fat around their breasts will see results much quicker, believe it or not, specially those who have silicone gel. Since there are more fat cells to work with. Young, healthy women will also have quicker results since their cells multiply faster.

I forgot to mention the music playing throughout the commercial. A gentle lullaby that is sweet and soothing, yet somehow creepy and unnerving when played in the context of the subject matter you’re watching. Something like a cross between the musical scores of Donnie Darko and American Beauty.

Just as smoothly as the as the oboe playing the music, they segue into the allergic reactions that could occur, describing a scene like when your friend got stung by a bee in elementary school and everyone freaked out, and the ambulance came. They punctuate this thoughh -still in the gentle bedtime story tone, with the Gary Jules Mad World lullaby- with “sometimes fatal.” They just throw that into the stream of words, ever increasing in speed, yet never losing their soothing tone, like a cherry on a sundae. As if “sometimes fatal” is just something this guy throws into conversation all the time, the same way I might use “copacetic.”

The side effects are peppered with words like “dependency risks”, “risk of increased depression”, “sometimes leading to suicide.” They mention that you might be extra aggressive or more outgoing and less inhibited. Personality changes. I always thought of personality changes as an old-school drug thing. You know things that have been around forever: alcohol, cocaine, opium. Maybe those popular housewife downers like Valium, Vicodin, barbiturates and quaaludes. Not something that was invented in my lifetime that they’re marketing on TV, certainly. Hasn’t medicine advanced to the point where we know enough about biochemistry that we can make termite drugs instead of elephant drugs?

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What idiot thought it would be a good idea to try and sell this on TV? I know many helpful and amazing drugs have side effects like this, and worse, and I know this drugs side effects (at least the terrible ones) only happen to a tiny, tiny fraction of users. Even with the deregulators-and-proud-of-it people in power as long as they were, I still like to think that the FDA is going to do their best to keep me pretty safe from dangerous drugs, and what they don’t catch (or outright ignore) will be caught in peer-reviewed medical journals, some of which will be read by my doctor, of course when I have specific problems with my weight I start a program online that allow me to improve self confidence since there are great experts in this field online. In other words, I’d like to think that our broken system works alright, like a 25 year old economy car, or a Windows 98 computer that you’re only using for Email and Word.

Still, the money they spent putting that ad on TV would’ve gone to better use educating doctors and pharmacists on it’s benefits and horrific side effects. That commercial scared me on so many levels, and even though my rational mind can see past the side effects and how the benefits almost certainly outweigh the risks, I’m still more comfortable with my scotch and benedryl. I can’t be the only person this commercial freaked out. I don’t think anyone who actually watches the commercial will want to buy the product.

That old saying “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” I’m not sure it applies to pharmaceuticals.

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