Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Baloney About Rheumatoid Arthritis

How Do You Spell Baloney?

“Baloney,” I muttered to myself the first time I saw an ad for a Rheumatoid Arthritis drug. My jaw would have dropped – if I could have opened it. Who am I kidding? If I could have, I would have liked to throw something at the TV or at least the producer of that ridiculous commercial.

I don’t think they are still running it. A woman sits on the beach watching children play. And since she is supposed to have RA, she sits massaging her knee firmly with her hands.

Here is what I was thinking:

1) How did she get so close to the shore? Did she walk on that knee through the sand? There is no one else around. Did she carry that lawn chair herself?

2) If her knee hurts, why is she rubbing it so hard? Rheumatoid Arthritis makes joints so tender that it is painful even to brush against them lightly.

3) What person with Rheumatoid Arthritis can rub anything firmly like that? Aren’t the hands supposed to be the first to go? (Well, with me it was the feet; I like to do things the hard way.)

It was not a realistic depiction of RA. So that same company has a new ad series. Instead, a woman goes dancing through her day – either managing her huge dog with ease or enjoying fine dining with her romantic interest. Her life is bliss. Thanks to the drug. Baloney.

How about the magazine ads? Every time I open a magazine, there is an ad for a Rheumatoid Arthritis drug which pictures the hands of a senior citizen. Hey, I hope I grow old, too, in spite of RA. But, most people get RA between the ages of 35 and 50. And we are having a hard time getting the message out about that.

Why can’t they use a young hand in just one ad? I plan to ask them and I hope you will, too. Why can’t one ad ever show a man with Rheumatoid Arthritis? At least twenty percent of RA patients are men. Don’t you think people would react strongly to see how RA can destroy a man in the prime of his life? Why is there not ever a single child? Now that would evoke some concern. That’s right; there are at least 3 types of RA which make up Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.

For that matter, why can’t they ever once use a real RA patient in an ad, instead of the bouncy actress? I bet there are thousands of RA patients who would do it for free just to get the truth out. Take that back - we need the money – our treatments are really costly.

That reminds me: when I first went on biologics, my RA doctor told me how angry she is that they even HAVE ads for these drugs. Her opinion: “If you have RA, your doctor knows about the biologics. And if you do not have RA, no one is going to prescribe them for you. What are those ads FOR? It is a waste of money which could be used on research or helping patients get the most expensive medicine in the world, which they need to live.”

At least those ads are for a drug which actually treats arthritis. The one that really aggravates me lately says this: “For many people with arthritis, not treating is not an option.” This medicine is not an arthritis treatment. It is a temporary pain reliever. This ad confuses people about what arthritis is. If they mean Osteoarthritis, they should say so. Perhaps they do not so that they can sell more of the drug. That is the point of advertising, right?

How about this one? What are they claiming their drug can do? A picture of barbells has the caption: “Arthritic joints need strong muscles to protect them. Tylenol Arthritis Pain.”

If they want to advertise, I say fine. I like a free market. Could they at least promote truth about the reality of Rheumatoid Arthritis at the same time? Wouldn’t that build trust, which is what strengthens sales in the end?

Beats the baloney they serve up now.


MissDazey said...

I hate all the ads. I refuse for the marketing department of the big drug companies deciding what I should take. There is a book out about how drugs are marketed, can't remember the name. I do not take the new meds, or many meds at on since they make me sicker.

Kelly said...

Sorry to hear about that.
Yes, you should be the one to decide.

I just with they could show the truth since they spent the money on the ad anyway.

daina said...

I've had JRA in every joint of my body. The docs strated testing me when I was around 4. It started with me telling my mother that my feet hurt all the time. I agree with you, if they could just show a ten year old little girl with pig tails and fingers that will never straighten out, maybe then people would pay attention....

Kelly said...

Hi daina!

You are so right!
We must push for just what you said. We will stay on it. Glad to have you on the team! :)