Drug advertisements, the ‘quick fix’ culture, and Parkinson’s disease

Our culture of instant gratification can expose us to false hope

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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Everywhere you look, it seems, ads and notifications holler about remedies to ailments that people suffer from in the United States. Flip on the television, and it won’t be long before an ad about some medication will invade your consciousness.

“If you have [insert disease], talk to your doctors about [x, y, and z].”

There are similar ads for seemingly every condition under the sun, which is interesting to me, because there aren’t many countries that permit drug manufacturers to advertise directly to consumers. In fact, only the United States and New Zealand allow direct-to-consumer advertisements for prescription drugs. And I’m critical of that process.

Here’s why I’m skeptical: Creating advertisements that promise results — likely with carefully selected verbiage to avoid any legal issues — is cruel. It’s also unrealistic. Our culture of instant gratification makes our dopamine-fed brains think there could be a magic cure to our problems.

Even online articles are often fashioned with clickbait titles to lure readers in with the promise of something beautiful. Are you getting wrinkles? No problem, there’s a facial product for that. Do you want to lose weight without changing your diet? Pop this pill. Want your tremors to go away? We have just the solution for you!

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Instead of patients being treated with optimal care, the almighty dollar seems to be calling the shots — which sadly means that the more money you have, the better your care will likely be.

Maybe some new treatment will alleviate your symptoms. But humans are nuanced, and you can’t place everyone under the same label and expect outcomes to affect us all equally.

When it comes to Parkinson’s disease, I think the culture of spending money and promoting instant gratification also applies. But offering hope without some type of foundation is a recipe for heartbreak. There’s no quick fix for Parkinson’s. Not yet, at least. While science has come a long way over the past century, and Parkinson’s treatment has changed significantly in recent years, it’s unlikely that a medication we might see on TV today will revolutionize Parkinson’s disease anytime soon.

That doesn’t mean there’s no reason to hope or that there couldn’t be a cure in the future. I hope that one is developed because no one should have to experience a disease like Parkinson’s. But as long as healthcare is driven by profit, there will be little incentive, in my opinion, to find affordable treatments and cures. So we better start saving our pennies in case that cure eventually is developed.

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


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