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What are the long list of side effects on drug commercials?

I see ads for new prescription drugs on TV almost every day. These drugs are for tons of different things. Some are sleep aids, some are ED medicine, some are for joint pain. No matter the type of drug, these commercials end with a laundry list of potential side effects. Just one example of this is the commercial for the popular sleep aid Lunesta. The commercial spends the first 28 seconds talking about how it will help you get a full night of sleep then sneaks in that the drug may increase thoughts of suicide or cause fatal throat swelling. These seem to me like pretty over the top side effects for a drug that should only be designed to help people sleep. So what is the reason behind all these potential side effects we hear about on television? Is every listed side effect relevant to every person? I started doing some research on this, and I found out some information on the Law Offices of Seaton & Bates, PLLC website. 

Drug companies are regulated by the United States FDA. Because of rules and guidelines set by the FDA, these companies are required to inform potential users of all potential side effects. This is much different than speaking to a doctor one on one about a certain prescription drug. When you go into a doctor’s office and talk about various treatment options, your doctor is only going to discuss the potential side effects that are relevant to your situation. Medications cause different reactions in different people based on their current health condition, sex and age. When advertisements air on television, companies recognize that they are advertising to a very wide audience. Literally, anybody could be seeing the commercial, so companies must warn of the side effects that could affect literally anybody. In order to stay within FDA guidelines and avoid a lawsuit, they list all the known potential side effects.

 If you take a prescription drug and experience harmful side effects as a result, you may be able to sue the drug manufacturer. If you choose to sue, the drug company will have to prove that they warned you of the side effects and that you chose to take it anyway. Let’s take another look at the prescription drug Lunesta. Lunesta might discover that men over the age of 40 that also take three different specific medications can potentially experience throat swelling while taking Lunesta. That’s a hyper-specific group that will likely not ever end up taking the sleep aid. Although, if companies fail to warn of the potential risk and someone does end up hurt as a result, the company could lose millions of dollars in a court case.

Because of everything I talked about, it is not likely that you have to worry about every side effect listed on the commercials for a prescription drug. Most people will only have to deal with one or two of the most common side effects. It is important to speak honestly with your doctor about your specific health status before starting a new prescription drug.

 

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