Tina Fey / SNL – Drug Parody Video – “Annuale”
I made reference to this CLASSIC video last night in my Speech before the distinguished attendees at Health 2.0 NYC to point out the absurdity of TV Drug commercials aimed directly at Patients. This Hilarious 2-minute Parody captures why these advertisements to the captive audiences of television watchers are devoid of any credibility. The beginning video images of these ads for drugs like Humira, Lyrica and the usual suspects of erectile dysfunction drugs first appear to sell “Hope” to desperate patients yet if the viewer LISTENS CAREFULLY the legal disclaimers about possible side effects all but negate that Hope.
FDA – Analog Regulations thwarting Pharma Digital Opportunities
I understand the FDA has a difficult task ahead of it in trying to regulate Pharma promotional efforts in the “Digital” world of Social Media. But as this parody so eloquently points out, permitting pharmaceutical television ads targeted directly at passive Patients is a joke because broadcast television, in the context of Pharma Promotion, is NOW an “Analog” technique that only serves to thwart Pharma’s digital opportunities in health care social media. The voice-over warnings in these analog TV drug commercials dilute the possible efficacy of the drugs. However, we live in a society where we all have the attention-spans of mosquitoes such that the opening video images of these television commercials are manipulative as they make such an indelible impression that the patient is actually done an injustice by being exposed to such duplicitous promotional efforts.
FDA/Pharma MUST Embrace the Digital World – like the Entertainment Industries
I don’t blame Pharma for these border-line deceitful commercials as they are only doing what they are permitted to do under ambiguous piece-meal FDA “regulations” which serve no purpose other than to insure the FDA is not sued for encroaching upon Pharma’s 1st Amendment-based protected “commercial speech.” But the FDA, if they truly intend to LEAD and REGULATE, needs to re-envision the new Digital world in which we live where “Patient Engagement” in Social Media is to Pharma what the mp3 file was to the Record industry. The Record industry initially had problems regulating these digital downloadable files but eventually they figured it out. Hollywood followed their lead and enacted various measures to encourage the growth of digital opportunities while simultaneously controlling piracy. The running joke in Hollywood at the time was that the only reason they weren’t as badly impacted by the proliferation of the Web and Peer-to-Peer File Sharing sites as the Record industry was because back then it took much longer to download Video Movie files. That changed quickly, however, and Hollywood learned from their entertainment industry colleagues in the Record industry.
The FDA and Pharma need to LEARN from these examples set by these two (2) hyper-sensitive high-profile industries which are just as much a part of daily life in the United States as Patients taking drugs to combat serious medical ailments. Moreover, it’s only going to get more challenging with the almost daily proliferation of digital opportunities when the FDA and Pharma must embrace mobile health, electronic health and health care social media into the practice of medicine and the businesses of Healthcare and Pharma. Therefore, please take the 2-minutes to watch this video as its humor is thought-provoking and hopefully instructive to the FDA and Pharma where the word “Promotion” needs to be transformed into meaning “Patient Engagement.”