I noticed the other day, while watching a TV advertisement, that drug companies are getting more comfortable talking about the side effects of the drugs they are promoting. At first blush it seems counter-productive. But, if you consider the inevitable litigation that will ensue, it’s actually a very smart move. As we all know by now, people don’t pay attention to warnings, so why not feature them prominently in TV ads?
Here’s why this is a good idea. If the drug sounds enticing the potential consumer will focus only on the benefits, and downplay the side-effects. Some people will experience side-effects and sue the drug company. But when that happens the drug manufacturers can point to the TV ads and say ‘geez, what else do you want us to do to inform you about side-effects?’ A powerful argument, to be sure. Indeed, this new advertising strategy is so clever that even manufacturers of older drugs are using it. For example, note how an advertisement for this social anxiety drug briefly touts some benefits, but then gives a laborious list of side-effects.
Hey, I’m ready to try it myself.