There was a time in the United States when drugs couldn’t be directly advertised to consumers. I’m talking about legal drugs, not the other kind, the kind that movies like Reefer Madness warned you about. The distinction has always been a little fuzzy, but I’m talking about the drugs you have to get through your doctor rather than your dealer. Okay, the distinction is still had to make because even if you talk to your doctor he’s going to refer you to a pharmacist, and if the drugs you’re trying to buy aren’t the legal kind you’re probably still going to have to talk to a guy who’ll refer you to someone else. Either way you’re going to end up in a basement sitting in a beanbag chair listening to Blue Oyster Cult, or I’ve been going to the wrong pharmacist all these years.
What I’m trying to get to is that the American Medical Association has proposed a ban on direct advertising of drugs to consumers, which I think is a good idea. It would mean the end of those commercials that always end with “Side effects may include dizziness, fainting spells, constipation, dry mouth, dry heaves, dry rot…okay, I’m going to quit now partly because Steve Martin already has a hilarious piece about potential side effects which I’ve included at the end of this post, but the scary thing is even though his essay is supposed to be humor this is an area where the line between satire and reality is just entirely too thin.
It’s like trying to make fun of the cooking competition show Chopped. It’s just impossible to come up with anything so ridiculous it hasn’t been done. The other day I told my friend that the basket for the entree round contained gummi bears, asphalt, liquid helium, and barracuda nostrils. And without blinking he said, “Oh, yeah, I’ve seen that episode.”