Calling Mom? Take Drugs.

March 24, 2010 at 8:01 pm 6 comments

Now that we’re getting all too comfortable taking antipsychotics for almost every perceived illness under the sun, from ADHD to depression and bipolar disorder, what does pharma offer for everyday concerns like…calling your mother? This ad for AstraZeneca’s Seroquel represents a new low in irresponsible attempts at positioning antipsychotics as a happy pill for every problem, feared problem and now even non-problem.

Oh and in case you missed it, the word schizophrenia is in muted type in the corner — snuck in just so they’re not technically marketing off label. That’s what it’s come to, just tack the name of the approved indication on the ad somewhere and sell a drug as the cure for daily life. If this is the shape of pharma marketing to come, what’s next?

As if it’s not bad enough to push the idea of using some of the most dangerous drugs on the market to cope with daily tasks and concerns, they’ve abandoned the idea of even pretending to condone judicious dosing and chosen instead to encourage buyers to take it to the limit. There is a reason the boldest type on the ad says “Up to 800 mg” and the arrow on the chart is maxed out. Even beer commercials tell you to drink responsibly, while this ad just tells you to take more. But hey, when it comes to Seroquel dosing, their slogan says it all, Aim High. If there was ever a line regarding responsible drug marketing, they’ve crossed it.

I was clued into this little gem by a BNET article via Beyond Meds.


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  • 1. Marian  |  March 25, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    When I first saw the ad I thought it was a (very bad) joke. The thing is that it actually is spot on in regard to quite a lot of people who are labelled with “schizophrenia”. They take the probably most prevalent cause of “sz”, and turn it into a “symptom”, actually ridiculing their customers, and the trauma model per se. They’ve crossed several lines with this ad.

  • 2. dogkisses  |  March 31, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I have not seen this ad, but I don’t have cable and do not watch much TV. I’m not surprised. Horrified yes, but not surprised.
    I’m commenting for a rather selfish reason today.
    My son is having the hardest time. Broke up with g/f who was twenty years older than he and I guess, she was looking for a good time. She also refused to believe my son has anything going on with his brain. But he does.
    Ever since the breakup, he has gone downhill mentally. His thoughts are so disorganized he can’t answer one question. He can only speak in terms of saying things he wishes he could do. Right now, it seems all is lost to him in the realm of verbal communication (except saying what he wishes he could do).
    I’m wondering if you can direct me somewhere– I don’t know where. I really thought his ACT team would take out commitment papers on him yesterday. Instead we all spent about two hours listening to my son. They say they will come and help him plant a small garden. We’ll see. One says he’ll work with my son on his Marshall Arts skills. We’ll see. Much of what they say is talk talk talk and NO walk!
    (Which I’m sick of by the way!) After two hours though the main social worker, (my son’s quit, which makes the second time in 18 months that he has lost his fav worker. They can leave anytime they please but when I say maybe my son should get a new treatment team they come up with a zillion reasons why staying with the same worker is good for him.
    So, what can I do other than offer him an antipsychotic? What can I do? A philosophy will not cut it. Nor will a book. Is there anything to help the symptoms of schizophrenia, (mostly disorganized thinking and paranoia) other than trying to get him to at least take some meds temporarily, which he isn’t saying yes to anyway? Do you know anyone who you could put me in contact with? I hope this post doesn’t sound angry, I am only angry b/c I don’t know how to help him.
    I’m also very scared.
    I’m also so tired I think sometimes I will not make it another day! I cannot do this alone anymore. I just can’t.
    Thanks for your continuing work. I do appreciate your blog, or rather the work you put into it.
    If you have any suggestions I would be so grateful.

  • 3. Marian  |  March 31, 2010 at 10:22 am

    dogkisses (I know, you were asking Aaron here, but sometimes I can’t keep my big mouth shut, so here are my two cents, for what it’s worth): I don’t think, your son has anything going on with his brain, that isn’t perfectly natural, taken into account what he has going on his mind. Actually, I believe, your son’s brain is in excellent shape, as it obviously is capable of producing an extreme reaction to extreme, external stressors. Our modern society likes to equal the mind with the brain, if it doesn’t make the assumption that brain functioning determines the functioning of the human mind. Nothing could be more wrong. Now you’ll probably ask me, how I can know this, and all I can say is no, I haven’t seen it under a microscope, I haven’t seen it in any blood test results, nevertheless, I know it from (my own) experience.

    One of the most crucial questions I was asked during my last crisis was whether I believed what was going on in my mind was something that just happened to me, as in “biological brain disease”, or whether I thought, I did it myself. I thought hard about this question for several days before I came up with an answer: I did it myself. Luckily, no one objected.

    I had read all the bs about chronic, biological brain disorders, and so on, and so on. All it did was rendering me in a completely powerless and hopeless mood. If it’s a brain disease, I can’t do anything about it. I can’t take control. The disease controls me.

    The insight that it was no such thing as a disease, but a defence mechanism, I myself had established, and had the choice to resort to, or not, eventually put me in a position where I could take full responsibility for myself.

    Ask your son the question. Don’t answer in his place. He has to come to the insight by himself. Once he’s come to it, you can ask him to take responsibility. Probably you won’t even have to ask him. I grabbed it the second I saw that I had the chance. And taking responsibility includes that you can no longer make others your devoted servants.

    The biological model creates slaves on both sides. Everybody, the “patient” and the relatives, are slaves of the alleged disease. Liberate yourself!

  • 4. abellve  |  March 31, 2010 at 10:48 am

    As I said in a direct email, I’m sorry your son is having such a hard time and I’m sorry you are too. What he’s going through is hard for anybody, especially someone who’s already in such a troubled/troubling state of mind. Just because I don’t believe in the certainty of biological mental illness, doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the certainty of troubled minds and hearts.
    One thing I can say is that even if his response seems strange, there’s no preset right or wrong way for him to be responding. Maybe he is shutting out the world and doesn’t speak order and sense and that’s going to be his way to do things, limiting clutter. I’m not minimizing anything or saying nothing is wrong, just that maybe he’s going to deal in ways that you can’t make much sense of.
    I’m no expert and I’ve never claimed to be but think for a moment of your son with no label, no mental illness — just another heartbroken kid in a bad state. Sometimes no matter how much energy you expend, how much weight you carry, you can’t help people deal with their problems. Every parent wants to help their kid through their troubles but in the end we are all left to mend ourselves whether or not we choose to enlist the help of others in the process. What happens if you just let him work through his problems on his own in his own way but with the knowledge that you’re always by his side to lean on (or not)?
    I’ll do my best to suggest ideas but ultimately it’s going to be a matter of whether he wants outside help with his problems or just to cope his own way or not at all. Sometimes there’s no easy answer.

  • 5. dogkisses  |  April 1, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Your words have both helped me and moved me. I am thinking. I am tired so my reply may be a bit choppy. I do actually agree with what you are talking about. Both you Aaron and your commenter. I understand. I just need to start thinking in a different way about things. And you know, the other day, I was really thinking he might be in a hospital/institution by the end of the day, but instead, the hours of his “drifting,” while talking to two of the social workers and I did help. He went to his class. We delivered his papers. “Think of him without any labels,” — I can think on that. I do think it is a process, like John Nash was saying on the interview with him that my son and I watched recently. As much as I wish it wasn’t so, he has unfortunately been through quite a bit of stress, some of it major in his life. I’ve always been there for my son from the day I knew him in my womb. Still, things happened.

    For this moment, I would like to say I feel very blessed to have such kind and truly thoughtful feedback from you. Thank you.

    Marian, thank you too for your input.

  • 6. abellve  |  April 4, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I’m glad for that — maybe more than you know.


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