Post # 515  MEDIA MEDICINE (redux)

In previous writing, we have expressed our disapproval concerning the non-regulated and irresponsible (albeit profitable), wide-scale televised hawking of medicines and other purported curatives, to the general public. The advertised medicines are often presented, alongside attractive actors or models, and/or lovable, babies, possibly, a cuddly cat or loving puppy, to ensnare the attention and positive reaction of the targeted and vulnerable consumer.

We have, in the past, for reason of emphasis, analogized the advertising big pharma, as, “snake oil salesmen,” by reason of their apparent lust for big profits, as a sole priority, irrespective the possibility of personal dismay and disappointment, arising out of its tactical creation of unrealistic expectations, and, more significantly, the real danger, of possible harm, incident to the irresponsible and blind prescription of medication, to the persuasive and nuanced challenged viewer.

During the period of the 18th Century, Gold Rush, many Chinese immigrants who came to California, seeking their fortune, and later, Chinese indentured laborers, who worked on the transcontinental railroad system, brought with them an ethnic “curative”, consisting of oil from certain snakes, purportedly curative of muscular aches, pains, and maladies like arthritis. It was used, with rather questionable results, as a liniment.

In the late 1800’s, American entrepreneurial tradition gave birth to a business enterprise, often conducted from a horse-drawn, wooden wagon, consisting of the sale of bottled snake oil. It was usually composed of a mildly venomous Chinese snake oil, a small quantity of beef fat, and red pepper. And was touted as a “sure-fire” remedy and cure, for blood diseases, dyspepsia, liver complaints, piles, kidney disease, muscular weakness, and numerous other maladies, reportedly, including impotence. By the 20TH Century, pursuant to the “Pure Food and Drug Act,” the sale of such “patent” medicine was, mercifully, outlawed.

The medical practitioner brings his years of medical education and practical experience, to the care of individualized patients. It is often said that the “patient history,” is the most valuable guide to his physical health, and when applicable, diagnosis and treatment. The responsible physician or nurse practitioner, whether in primary care, in the diagnosis of pathology, or its treatment, in addition to the responsibility to provide the patient with the “gold standard” level of diagnosis and treatment, is also charged with the relevant responsibility of individual knowledge of the patient’s nuanced condition, and the possible existence of personal sensitivities. Proper and professional medical treatment, whether, prescription of medicine or other intervention, must take into consideration the known, or revealed, specifics of each patient’s personal condition and past history. The failure to do so would amount to the undeniable commission of malpractice, and could possibly result in the harm, or even the mortality of the patient. The physician can also, in this regard, compare the details and measure of the patient’s response, to other patients in his experience, or that of reported, medically, researched patients.

America is uniquely successful in the lucrative area of advertising and sales. It may be admitted, that much of its vaunted GNP is a beneficiary of that enterprising practice. However, aside from banning media advertisements for such matters as cigarettes, guns, gambling and, (for some foolhardy reason,) birth control, it has seen fit to ignore its responsibility regarding the health and well -being of its citizens. It is only when the advertised pharmaceutical, or other mass used, personal product, has been found to be poisonous, or empirically determined to be carcinogenic, that any interest in protecting the consuming public is expressed.

The public, indiscriminate prescription of medication, especially those regarding conditions, such as cancer, hepatitis, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, eczema, depression and emotional illness, herpes and the like, to an unknown, possibly gullible, persuasive and indiscriminate public, appears to us, to be bordering on criminal irresponsibility. It is a reckless and dangerous activity, practiced for material gain, is essentially, intentional, premeditative, and irresponsible to the point of blatant, indiscriminate, sociopathy; it should be regularly investigated and if so determined, legally banned.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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