Shaken, not Stirred: Just four guys.

June 12, 2016
Jim Bond

Jim Bond

Shaken, not Stirred, a blog by Jim Bond.

Just four guys. Friends, evidenced by their easy banter and camaraderie. Just four friends enjoying an afternoon on the golf course. Having lunch. A couple of cocktails:

“Another round of Kevin Nealons”.

“Make mine an Arnold Palmer”, Arnie says.

Just four friends in this TV commercial, having a wonderful afternoon because of the miracle drug XARELTO. Perhaps one reason they are basking in the glory of happiness and good health is because they are making residuals every time this spot airs.

You see, XARELTO is a blood thinner ostensibly used by this quartet. Blood thinners are potions which help blood flow smoothly through veins and arteries to prevent blood clots, and they’re used to treat some types of heart disease.

The commercial issues the usual warnings: “All blood thinners, including XARELTO, can cause bleeding, which can be serious, and rarely may lead to death. This is because blood thinners are medicines that reduce the blood’s ability to clot”. It even mentions (in a calming, ‘god-like’ voice) that death is a possibility.

At least the spot doesn’t drone in an deeper, ominous tone: “maycausedepressionandsuicidalthoughtsacnehairlossfatigueexcessivenosehairgrowthfungusinfestedtoenailshatredofyourchildrenandneighborstheuncontrollableurgetotellyourbossoffplustheoccasionaluncontrollableitchingmayalsonegativelyaffectyourgolfgame”.

That might be too much to bear.

But then, in the same commercial break…the SAME break, comes a new product/service to sell. “If you, or a loved-one has been the victim of cerebral hemorrhage or death…” and then it continues with, “XARELTO, has been linked to severe side effects, including uncontrollable bleeding events, ischemic strokes, and embolic strokes, all of which can be fatal. If you or a loved one…”.

OK, we get it. What may restore a better life may end it, as well. Life is a crapshoot.

What baffles me is; Why are these massive money-sucking companies allowed to advertise? Why are these money-sucking lawyers with (800) numbers allowed to advertise? Where is the dignity these professions used to exhibit?

According to a 2009 report on National Public Radio referring to ‘the old days’: “Doctors decided what to prescribe. Drug companies…tried to influence doctors. Patients did what they were told.”

Over 30 years ago, our trusted protectors, the FDA, allowed some restricted television commercials. But then, in 1986, a pharma petitioned loosening restrictions with the following language: “Your doctor now has treatment which won’t make you drowsy. See your doctor”. That broke the damned dam. From $34 million dollars in sales per year to $800 million*.

So now, the doctors were deluged with pressure from the patients and the pharmaceutical companies, who were already offering lavish catered lunches/dinners and God only knows what other incentives. So many doctors succumbed that reputations and trust faltered (see the movie ‘Love And Other Drugs’).

Consequently, in the unlikely event I’ll ever voluntarily see a doctor again, I’ll check the parking lot to see what my physician drives before making the appointment.

Now…let’s get to the attorneys.

When I was living in Louisville, Kentucky and doing radio talk shows, I encountered a famous local barrister. We became friends (in a fashion) and did many interviews together. He was a fast-talking, shouting lawyer who specialized in personal injury and DUI (et al) cases.

I recall riding in his Mercedes on the Dixie Highway, (affectionately dubbed the Dixie Die-Way by locals), when he picked up his car phone (this was 1988 or ‘89) and called the police to report an erratic driver. I recall musing that he would probably ultimately represent the person he reported. Yeah.

Richard D. Shapiro and I parted company shortly after that.

He was described as ‘Advertising Attorney Richard D. Shapiro’ in his obituary at age 63. He was best remembered by Kentucky lawyers as “…a gutsy personal injury lawyer who took the Kentucky Bar Association to the United States Supreme Court and paved the way for lawyer advertising in Kentucky. Shapiro v. Kentucky Bar Association, 486 U.S. 466 (1988).”

His TV ads generally began with: “So you got caught…”. Could have been more sleazy, like: “Just four friends enjoying an afternoon in the drunk tank…”. Upon further thought, I sense a similarity between Dick and Donald. “So you’re an illegal alien; a rapist, a drug dealer…”, while descending an escalator in Louisville’s venerable Seelbach Hotel.  

Now we have pharmaceutical companies and lawyers who can appeal to the general public for business, like used car dealers who finance anyone who walks in.

And, the standards for once pristine, revered callings have slipped, declined, washed into the gutter by those who take advantage of the afflicted to parlay big money into ‘yuuuge’ money to purchase lawmakers. Then the lawmakers create legislation favorable to their ‘patrons’, creating a vortex of self-interest excluding humanitarian benefit.

Meanwhile, I take no prescription drugs, I see no doctors. But, I do have a lawyer. He reminds me of Matlock. He has my trust for reasoned, quiet contemplation and action.

I think I’ll have another Kevin Nealon; never mind, make it an Arnold Palmer

 

* According to Statistica.com, gross US pharmaceutical sales currently top $425 billion dollars.

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