Saturday, February 25, 2006

Them pills off the telly

There has been a trend emerging, ever since Pfizer launched Viagra as it happens, for drug companies to bypass professionals and direct market to the public. They do this not using tradiitonal marketing-- I believe direct marketing of presciption only medicines in the UK may still be banned if not frowned upon-- but in the form of "breaking news" stories. This means we now regularly get consultations of the sort I had yesterday afternoon.

A pleasant Jill Archer type lady came in to enquire, among other things, what I thought about "those pills off the telly"?

Having missed the news bulletein the night before I asked which ones they were.

Mrs A: I'm not sure, something to do with cholesterol I think?

Dr J: I see, and which channel was this?

Mrs A: ITV I think.

Dr J: So which programme was it on?

Mrs A: Definitely the News.... three or four weeks ago I think it was.

Dr J: and you can't remember the name of them at all?

*Mrs A shakes her head*

Five minutes later and after fruitless earch of the ITN website, which when searched for "Cholesterol" listed news items none less than 6 months old and all unhelpful, we agreed she would try to find out a little more about them and get back to me.

As a rule of thumb, most "pills off the telly" fall into three broad categories;

Those that have been around for ages which are now "dangerous" (i.e.the industry has a newer, more expensive replacement that they can supply at a premium).

Those that have been around two or three years the are "potentially life saving" (or not selling as well as we had hoped).

Those that are freely available elsewhere and "definitely life saving" (but not licenced for use in the UK because significant questions remain about either their safety profile or effectiveness).

In amongst these there are occasional true advances and new treatments that deserve the fanfare, but they are in dangfer of being drowned out by the background noise of constant hype for less worthy also rans.

So next time you need to enquire abut "pills off the telly, please try to remember the name.

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