Selling Sickness

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If you watch any television at all you have been privy to extra lovely words describing the newest drugs on the market.

It used to be that I could not pronounce many of the drug names I saw but these days I am aware that BIG PHARMA is spending seemingly infinite bucketloads of cash dressing up drugs in psychologically addicting costuming for the masses….yes, you.

Just by altering the sound and meaning of the name of a drug they hook into our need to assuage suffering no matter what.  Sometimes we don’t even need to be suffering but we want the thing cloaked in that magical sounding promise of health.

These are the top 10 drugs advertised on TV:

  • Chantix.
  • Lyrica.
  • Eliquis.
  • Viagra.
  • Humira.
  • Latuda.
  • Xeljanz.
  • Celebrex.

According to Kantar Media, pharma industry spending on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising totaled $5.4 billion in 2015 compared to $4.3 billion in 2014 – a 19% increase.

So let’s take some of these new names and look at why they may have been chosen for us consumers:

LYRICA – sounds melodic..lyrical..sing a simple song and you’ll be healed!

CELEBREX!  – come join the celebration!  good times had by all!  party down all ye sick ones.

VIAGRA –  genius word hearkening to things like viable, vital, grow, green,  channel, way (root words of “via”)

ELIQUIS-  sounds pretty elegant, yes?  I feel the word “equal” in there somewhere.  Also sort of sounds like “equus-(horse..wild, untamed, vitality)”

CHANTIX-  chanting is a spiritual and/or religious activity to lift our beingness to higher heights and often elicits a pleasant trance-like state.  Yummy.  AND they put a “tix” (ticket) on the end to boot!  Gimmee, gimmee… I want that.  I will tell my doctor this drug is the one I want!

Ok..You get the picture.

My mother died of bladder cancer as well as emphysema in her mid- 70s.  She was a lonely woman in my experience and I believe she used her illness and many doctor visits as  a comforting social life.  Old age does this to us.  Too hard to make new friends, little energy to care for  the relationships we have but DAMN!  Going to the doctor we get to have one-on-one attentive conversations that feel intimate.  We are half-dressed and vulnerable.  We get to be touched physically, feel heard and seen and sent home with possibility of more goodness if we are fortunate.  Attention arrives with illness; whether wanted or not-attention is attention after all.  

Sickness itself has become medicine. 

A mini-antidote for this seems to be choosing to give a little bit of yourself to someone else from a truly authentic place;  to a stranger: “Wow, you look great!”   Someone I’d never met said to me yesterday: “I always see you with your dog.  She looks happy.  Thanks for taking such good care of her” (this from an Hispanic grounds keeper downtown).

“I love seeing a man in a suit” (me to handsome sartorialist).

or really…just a fairly robust “Good Morning” lets a person know in their bones they are NOT invisible.

This is very good medicine in my book.


5 Responses to “Selling Sickness”

  1. Alexis McNaughton on March 21st, 2017

    Those drug commercials are making me sick! What is the drug for sick making commercials? Love this Cathy. Really love the antidote. xx

  2. Catherine Lamontagne on March 22nd, 2017

    I don’t have a T.V. and on internet I use an ad-blocker almost as if it were my new religion. However just reading your post made me smile.
    “Eliquis” is maybe derived from “Elixir”- a divine drink- or at least one destined to divinity.What do you think? On another note, a folk song from my youth (Peter-Paul and Mary’s album @1970ies) says : “Where have all the young men gone, loong time passing?” and today I would suspect I could sing ” Where have all the poets gone? loong time paassing?” and answer that they have gone to “…merchandizing,each and everyone,,,”
    But as have built a fairly secure anti-publicity wall; I am not too affected by the attempts of invasion of the big-pharma industry and can smile with Cathy on this one; that is, until I think of the tragedy underlying it all, and continue with “…when will they ever learn?…”
    Good remedy Cathy- being there-being real; what a beautyful gift. Thankyou.

  3. Dennis Chamberlain on March 22nd, 2017

    This is entertaining, insightful, and educational all at the same time. I’m ready to order some Lyrica right now, even though I have no idea what it does!

  4. Judith Henry on March 22nd, 2017

    Cathy – such a powerful piece. I read somewhere that the U.S. is the only country that allows Big Pharma to advertise direct to the consumer. And sharing your mom’s story really hit home to me. I saw that in my father, as well. Thank you for always getting to the heart of things.

  5. Jann on April 10th, 2017

    Your writing always brings me relief.
    I find it such a comforting way to be with you.
    Like I am sitting right there.
    Listening to your wisdom and profound knowledge.
    Love you darling.

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