The power of positive images

Some people learn by seeing, some people learn by listening. Which one are you? The prescription drug companies are betting you’re the former.

The way the companies portray the warnings of side effects in their ads has been under scrutiny over the last few months. An editorial this week on — a physicians’ resource — says:

AMA President-elect Nancy H. Nielsen, MD, PhD, recently described direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising as akin to looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. It’s an apt observation. Now-ubiquitous television drug spots leave a stronger impression of medications’ benefits than their risks.

Now, how would they do that? By appealing to your vision more than your hearing. This week, I’ve kept track of the images on the TV screen and compared it to the audio from the speakers.


“If you have any sudden decrease or loss of vision or hearing, stop taking Levitra.”


This was one of the only drug ads I saw during the week that didn’t appear to mask the side effects warnings. Instead, it had a doctor explaining them. “When taking Plavix alone, or with other medicines such as aspirin, the risk of bleeding may increase.”


“Sleep aids may cause severe allergic reaction such as swelling of your tongue or throat or shortness of breath.” (Ambien)


“Evista increases the risk of blood clots and should not be used by women who have or have had blood clots in the legs, lungs, or eyes. Evista may increase the risk of dying from stroke.”


“Don’t drink alcohol in excess with Cialis. Side effects may include headache, upset stomach, delayed backache (?), or muscle ache.”

And, of course, the ever popular…


“Seek immediate medical help if you experience an erection lasting more than four hours.”

These two, apparently, are looking for the nearest clinic.

  • betty

    /These two, apparently, are looking for the nearest clinic./

    or higher grass to fool around in?

  • Nikki

    Bill Collins, will you marry me? you are the only one who can get me throught the every-day monday that is my life!

  • Mrs. news cut


    I totally understand your desire to relate to Mr. News cut. Guys like him are hard to find…

    however, I need to interject..

    his name is Bob and well, how can I put this gently..

    He has this gold band on his left ring finger… and well, ahhh. again, really I understand..

    hard to find someone who “get’s it” and he does!