Prescription Commercial Propaganda

News Update (4/26/16): Biogen has announced that it will be taking down their Tecfidera Commercial. For full story, click here.

movies-at-home(Originally Posted 3/13/16) You’re sitting there, the kids are in bed, and the housework is finally done. You’re relaxing on your sofa enjoying a late night snack, while watching an episode of your favorite TV show. You are just about to find out whodunnit; your adrenaline is pumping and your eyes are glued to the screen. Then it happens.

A station break.

This one in particular happens to be about a medication that is offered to people living with Multiple Sclerosis. The commercial says the medication is made to cut relapses in half, while it shows a video of a woman that apparently has Multiple Sclerosis; smiling, hiking, swimming and even enjoying an evening at an amusement park. It all looks so wonderful, carefree, and happy! How fabulous it all seems to be.

Excuse me for saying so, but what a load of manure!

I’m not saying that the medication is bad. I’m not saying anything bad about any of the medications that have been made to treat the symptoms caused by Multiple Sclerosis. At least they are trying to find a cure.

My issue is that the person in the video is portrayed as a happy-go-lucky woman that is living with MS, and able to perform normal activities just like healthy people are easily able to do.

It’s nowhere near the truth for most people with MS in the real world! I think it’s disrespectful to people that live with Multiple Sclerosis, because it misleads the public into believing that something like this can magically happen for everyone living with the disease.

We wish that was truly the case!

While some people are able to have some benefits by taking some of these medications (MS medications in general, not one specific brand), not everyone responds to them as well as these ads claim. In fact, a lot of people don’t have many benefits from them at all, if any.

If you are someone that doesn’t live with MS (or any other type of chronic illness or disease), after seeing a commercial like this you would think that it was great that there’s a medication for people living with the condition, right? Have you ever actually listened to the commercial though? If not, you should. The next time you see that commercial (or any commercial advertising medications), listen to it very carefully (Or you can just watch the YouTube video I found for one of the commercial’s posted above).

The truth is, if pharmaceutical companies were to take a video of actual people living with Multiple Sclerosis (Lupus, Fibromyalgia and so many more disabling illnesses), you would see many of us using mobility and other assistive devices. You would see people that are fighting every day just to try to have a semblance of a normal life. You would see us saving our energy just so we could go someplace, like an amusement park… or maybe just the supermarket.

All of this while we are dutifully taking our medications.

But that wouldn’t make for a very good commercial, now would it?

 

Symptom of "Flushing"
Flushing symptom – A common side effect of the medication, Tecfidera.

 

Flushing2

 

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Doctor Writes A Letter To Patients With A Chronic Illness

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Why aren’t Medical Schools teaching a class on Doctor/Patient relationships and the insecurities and communications (and miscommunications) that happen between them?

I know it would have been a much more pleasant experience for me all those years, if a doctor would have had the guts to just say, “I’m sorry… I can’t help you. Please find a new doctor.”

It would have been so much easier than their favorite go-to, “Go see a psychiatrist”.

After the scores of “insecure” doctors I have been to over the years, I think I just might, thank you.

Click to read the letter, “A Letter To Patients With Chronic Disease“, by Dr. Rob Lamberts in his blog. He actually sounds like he gets it!

Feel Better Soon

feel better soon

When you live with a chronic illness you hear that all the time. “I hope you feel better soon”. While it’s a truly appreciated sentiment, it’s also a phrase that is hidden in plain site, showing how much most people truly aren’t aware of what it’s like to live with a chronic illness.

“Feel better soon” implies that someone has an illness or injury that they will eventually recover to their normal activities. A person living with a chronic illness doesn’t get to do that. We are living a constant loop of pain, sickness, and surprise symptoms to the point that we wish we literally and finally could just simply “feel better soon”.

I saw someone on Twitter speaking about the pain she was having due to an illness she was living with (Rheumatoid Arthritis). As I wrote my comment to her I was about to end with saying, “feel better soon”, when it hit me (well, I’ve thought it many times before, but this time it really hit me)… Instead of saying the norm, I should say what she and I are really hoping for. So instead I finished with, “I hope your pain lowers soon”.

When you live with a chronic illness, you know that unless you are one of the lucky few that go into full remission, the pain never completely goes away. That doesn’t even include the fatigue, cognitive issues, mobility issues and social isolation, financial stress, family stress; everything takes a bigger toll on the body of the majority of people living with a chronic illness or disease.

Even more so with invisible illness/diseases (An illness that a person lives with, but generally looks healthy to the naked eye). Even though there are people that are truly sick, it’s not unusual that they are treated with a more, “Come on, you can do it. Just try a little harder!” attitude. (cough) “A brother’s best friend’s aunt has the same thing, and they are doing just fine”. Little do they realize that there are different stages of chronic illness and diseases; and that no two people are alike when it comes to any given diagnosis.

Most people don’t even realize what it took to get the energy just to take a shower today.

Trust me when I say I’m as tough and stubborn as they come, and I have been through the wringer a few times over since I have been in “full chronic illness mode”. If someone says to me that they hurt too much or can’t do it anymore, that pretty much says it all in my book.

I still have dreams of getting my life back one day, so I can only imagine what it’s like for someone else.

If only we really could just feel better soon.