DR. HOOK- Drug TV: Endless pharmaceutical ads pose risks

Iggy is probably the most famous dog in the world. Personally, I don't consider dogs to be dogs. They are our babies. Love them, love them, love them!

Our baby, Ms. Maggie Moo, comes to work with us everyday. She gets more treats and attention from our patients than any of us at the office. (I had to ask people to stop giving her treats because it was affecting Ms. Moo Moo's girlish figure.) 

 I also love Ellen DeGeneres. She's one of the funniest and kindest celebrities out there. And I understand why she's so upset about the dust-up that erupted when she gave an adopted pet to her hairstylist's family– only to have the rescue agency confiscate it. To make things worse, she had to plead to end the death threats towards the agency. 

What's wrong with people? Death threats targeted at the Dixie Chicks to Halle Berry and now  a doggy adoption agency. Do we all need to take a chill pill?

 Well, from watching the commercials during the evening news, I think the pharmaceutical companies believe so. Three times a week while working out in my gym, I have the privilege of watching the evening news. Unfortunately, it is not recorded on my DVR (like at home) so I have to suffer through all the commercials. And I've noticed something: they're almost all medication related. At one point, there were five pharmaceutical commercials in a row. If I weren't a doctor, I probably would have confused them all and mistaken a cholesterol medication to be a restless leg syndrome medication. "So you mean if I take Lipitor I'll get a good night's sleep like Dr. Jarvik?"

 Now don't get me wrong. Overall, I like pharmaceutical companies because they've come out with great medications that have increased our longevity and quality of life. On the other hand, why all the commercials? Shouldn't medications be determined between the doctor and patient? I get quite a few patients in my office asking me about medications they saw on TV. 

"Hey, doc, could I try this one? The commercial was so dazzling that it must be a good drug."

"Ah, you were on that before, and it made you vomit and confused. Remember?"

 True, the pharmaceutical commercials tell you about the side effects, but boy are they savvy at it. Usually attractive people are doing something fun as the cool-as-a-cucumber narrator surreptitiously announces the side effects. "Side effects include liver failure, kidney failure, brain death, stroke, heart attack, good old fashion death, a compulsion to go to Las Vegas and gamble with prostitutes, vomiting blood– did we mention death?– TTP, which I won't explain because I don't know what I means either, and decrease in semen." 

 Oh, yes, what's the deal with announcing prolonged erections and decrease in semen? Thank God I don't have children because if my child asked me what that was all about, I'd cringe and say something like, "Decrease in seamen means the Navy lets go of some officers, and prolonged elections occur when democracy isn't working like the 2000 presidential election." 

Again, that's definitely a subject the doctor and patient should discuss. 

 I wonder how many over-the-counter medications there are, because there must be a pill out there for everything– well, at least it seems this way with the Blitzkrieg of commercials. The problem with these over-the-counter medications is that I see a lot of patients overdosing on them— in particular the medications that used to be available only by prescription. Because a friend of a friend of an enemy of a friend uses double or triple the suggested dose, I have patients coming in doped up like Marion Jones at the Olympics.

 Remember that diet and exercise are the best medicine out there. Just don't watch all the food commercials.

Dr. Hook cracks a joke or two, but he's a renowned physician with a local practice. Email him with your questions.