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4:02 p.m. - 2023-09-18
"I have type 2 diabetes but I manage it well. It's a little pill with a big story to tell."

One of the most annoying TV commercials at the moment is the singing, dancing fat woman who's so happy about her Jardiance. I have issues both general and specific with it.

Generally, I'm opposed to having prescription drug commercials on TV at all. Only 2 countries (the US and Australia) allow direct to consumer advertising for prescription drug. Laymen don't have the necessary training or experience to evaluate the claims of manufacturers. Even if they did, the information in commercials is incomplete and misleading. Side effects and adverse reactions are hidden in all but illegible fine print at the bottom of the screen while the simultaneous visual message is one of health and happiness. They also minimize the seriousness of specific diseases such as diabetes and arthritis, not only for the patients themselves, but also for healthy people who see actors seeming to overcome often crippling illnesses and taking up active, demanding activities with no sign of effort or distress. And Big Pharma doesn't advertise less expensive drugs--after all, they're no longer big money makers--which are often just as effective and better characterized as to side effects and drug interactions. How many of the new diabetes meds, for example, actually produce better results than metformin?

But the Jardiance commercial also adds another, subtler layer of deception. Not only is the strangely euphoric "star" obese, but many of the background dancers are as well. Many diseases--and type 2 diabetes is among them--can be meaningfully improved by weight loss. But our diabetic lady is not only fat but jolly. She has reached her goal simply by finding the right pill. Note that Jardiance, an SGLT2 inhibitor, has only a modest effect on weight loss. One of its big competitors, very prevalent in the news these days, is Ozempic, a GLP-1 which had had dramatic effects on reducing weight and is even being prescribed off label for that purpose. So maybe there's an intentional subliminal message here: Don't pay attention to our competitor Ozempic; be fat and happy with Jardiance.


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