beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

  • Contact BIDMC
  • Maps & Directions
  • Other Locations
  • Careers at BIDMC
  • Smaller Larger

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

Smaller Larger

TV Drug Ads

Posted 8/10/2016

Posted in

How many ways are there to say: "I am not a fan"? How about "I think they should be banned" or "I think they do terrible damage". I know that these Pharma ads sell drugs, and some of their people insist that the ads are a public service of sorts, informing interested consumers of possibilities and empowering them to speak with their doctors about specific medications. No mention there, of course, about the benefit to the Pharma company. It's the old "follow the money" adage.

This is a very moving essay from The New York Times about this issue. Please take a few minutes to read it. 

Cancer-Drug Ads vs. Cancer-Drug Reality

TOWSON, Md. — Two days into a long-dreamed-of family vacation to Italy in August 2013, my wife, Ronna,
became nauseated, unusually tired and short of breath. One of the great non-complainers in American history, she insisted that it was no big deal and valiantly tried to join in on various outings in the Italian countryside. But, after a few increasingly difficult days, even Ronna knew that it was time to go to the emergency room.
In a small hospital in Tuscany, doctors identified the apparent source of the problem: a pericardial effusion,
or a buildup of fluid around the heart. Ronna was transferred to a larger medical center in Arezzo, where a
pericardial tap was performed. Immediately afterward, in a scene that still plays on a loop in my mind’s eye, the hospital’s chief of cardiology informed me that, while the fluid was gone, he was quite sure that Ronna had lung cancer.
A few weeks later, when we were back home in Maryland, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital confirmed his
suspicion: My healthy, active, 48-year-old, never-smoker wife had Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer.
Over the next two years, Ronna underwent several rounds of grueling chemotherapy and, when the cancer
spread to her brain, several rounds of radiation treatment. She also took part in a clinical trial at Johns Hopkins for Opdivo, an immunotherapy drug made by the pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb. Briefly stated, immunotherapy is a recently developed, highly promising treatment that helps a person’s immune system identify and attack cancer cells. But it did not work for Ronna, and last Sept. 25 she died as her parents and I held her hands and whispered in her ear.

Read more (and get to the ad part):


Add your comment