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Saying No to the Flu Shot

Age of Autism Weekly Wrap: Ask Your Doctor If Not Having To Listen To Prescription Drug Ads Is Right for You

AofA Red Logo Ayumi YamadaBy Dan Olmsted 

The population of the world is approaching 7.4 billion. The population of the U.S. (318 million) and New Zealand (around 5 million) combined is less than .4 billion, which means there are about seven billion people who don’t live in either country.

I envy every single one of them, at least when it comes to the fact that they are not bombarded by ads for prescription drugs.

I’ve just returned from Japan, where the only ads for medicine are over-the-counter pills and nostrums that, like the elixers, tonics (and snake oil) that predominated in 19th century America, are good for whatever ails you. Bursitis? Try this! Lumbago? Amazingly, this will work for that, too! Dispepsia, dipsomania, low energy, neurasthenia? Ditto. I snapped the accompanying photo on a subway in Tokyo, and the various grimaces on the faces of the actors point to the all-purpose nature of the remedy. It reminded me of Geritol, which some of you may remember from the Ted Mack Amateur Hour and elsewhere. 

Compare and contrast those nostrums with the highly targeted, hugely expensive pharma products in the U.S. Good Lord, are they irritating! My current least favorite is for Namzaric, for “mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.” The TV ad tries to thread the needle by showing a lovely older woman with her caring, concerned family, Mom looking discombobulated but not disheveled, which in the TV universe would be far worse!Japan ad

In Tokyo, CNNj – an international version of the U.S.-based network – runs ads, but not pharmaceutical ones. In Kyoto, which simply broadcasts the U.S. version of CNN, during ads the screen goes to weather, stocks and currency data while a relentlessly banal tune plays that soon gets in your head. (It’s not a bad way to drift off, sans medication.) Either way, you’re spared pharma’s version of the world.

There are plenty of those aches and pains ads, and I doubt most of those treatments do much, but at least they probably don’t kill you or cause autism. And there may be a strong placebo effect from taking something with beautiful Japanese characters on it.

The advancing age and declining number of Japanese (the current population of 127 million is expected to fall to 87 million by 2060, with almost 40 percent of them over 65 and in even more need of tonics to relieve their aches and pains) has led to an effort to boost the population.

Recently, according to an account I read in the Japan Times, a government health agency got a little overzealous. It put out sex ed material suggesting that the age of 22 was the best year for a woman to give birth. Turns out, as you might imagine, there is no “best year” for a woman to give birth, and the government has now backtracked.

But that kind of manipulation in the service of state and corporate interests is nothing compared to  the relentless bombardment of prescription drug ads back home. It creates an environment in which drugs are presumed to be the treatment of first resort for everything from erectile dysfunction to needing to pee too much (now conveniently treated in one pill!) to getting a new knee. Then come the ads for the defective knee replacements, lawsuits, etcetera, a virtuous circle as far as media revenues are concerned, a vicious one for people with bad knees.

It mutes Big Media when it comes to questioning the effects of these drugs, especially the vaccines that are clearly implicated in the rise of autism.

It quiets Congress, which should be hearing from people like William Thompson about the CDC’s malfeasance in studying the MMR, as well as other drugs.

Once, in a conversation with TV journalist Robert MacNeil, Mark Blaxill said he believed that banning pharma advertising was an important step in restoring sanity. “And cut off their heroin?” MacNeil responded in a tone that suggested the networks would never give up their fix.

Someone else once suggested to me that even pharma may be getting tired of supplying this fix. Let’s face it, they are shelling out a lot of money to promote products that are going to be widely used anyway – by Americans and by the rest of the world’s 7.3 billion people. Is it really worth the price to gain the marginal profit of getting a few thousand more people to ask their doctor about Crestor? But once the ad wheel is set in motion, there’s no getting off. The idea of big media holding big pharma hostage is one of the few things about all this that makes me smile.

In this drugged-up world, it’s hard not to notice that there is one underrepresented category in big media drug advertising – vaccines for kids. Who needs them when you have a literally captive audience in which families are trapped between CDC-recommended school mandates on the front end and the no-exit vaccine “court” at the back?

And can you imagine the response when parents heard the list of adverse events that go with something like the HPV vaccine? It’s enough to make me want to buy an ad myself! Or maybe just go back to Japan.


Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.


Birgit Calhoun

Reading this the thought crept up on me that maybe medicines are also unavoidably unsafe. Where is the difference between them and vaccines as far as safety goes? I understand that synthetic opioids are among the most dangerous drugs around nowadays. And they are dispensed very freely.

Can anybody legally go after anybody in the medical field anymore? Only the wealthy can do that and they don't need the money. They also can get a doctor to exempt the child for "good" reason.

For the rest of us there is no justice when the award does not cover the lawyer bills.

Patience (Eileen Nicole) Simon

An article in the Boston Globe this morning praises a new tech device to help people to remember to take their meds, and when to pop their pills. Lately I have become painfully aware of "elders" not even as old as me with hearing loss, shuffling gait, and balance problems. I now point this out every time I am harassed about refusing blood pressure meds.

I had a horrible experience taking lisinopril 20+ years ago at age 50. I was once competitive in springboard diving, which was still one of my favorite activities. Suddenly I started falling off the board, and found I was unable to pull myself out of the pool by my arms. I was told by the doctor maybe it was time to give up such strenuous exercise...

Another doctor asked what stressors in my life might be causing high blood pressure. I told her my autistic son was and would be a lifelong cause of stress.

"But autism is treatable," she cheerfully informed me, "look at Temple Grandin!"

Beware of doctors who want to find some flaw that is "treatable."

Matilda R

I feel that the majority of doctors who treat autistic patients see what is going on and want to help, but they are compromised on so many levels that need to be "leveled" that they aren't able to speak out. We, as parents of autistic children, need to speak out for our children and get attorneys who known how to fight this system to fight for us in order for these doctors to fight the good fight. I believe many doctors in the trenches of "autism" are rooting for us, but are hit on so many sides they are afraid to speak out, as such, we need to be mindful of how we need to advocate for their rights as doctors to protect our kids as we need to be in protecting our kids.

Denise Anderstrom Douglass

Thank you, Dan -- you are a hoot, and loved by all of us! I am constantly irked by how everything (symptoms, mind you, not actual illnesses) e.g. Restless Leg Syndrome, Erectile Dysfunction, Dry Eyes, Overactive Bladder, etc., etc! are 1) suddenly official diseases which 2) there is a pill for! and 3) will be now and forever referred to by its initials! The drug will not cure anything, mind you, it can only "manage" the problem.

The reason you don't see ads for vaccines, of course, is they don't have to! They don't have to because they have no liability and because they own the mainstream media, and the government, ergo, they don't have to do anything! They don't need to do real research either, the government just fast tracks them all now!


Great points, Dan. One of the biggest reason we got rid of cable 4 years ago was because of the annoying pharma ads. When we want to watch a television show or movie, we stream it. It was nice to be shielded from them, but I knew it wouldn't last. Just a few months ago I discovered that YouTube was airing vaccine adverts


We got rid of cable too, and for the same reason. One of the best things we ever did for our family.

I'm also a little ticked at Youtube, as are a lot of people that I talk to.

But I think they've made a big mistake on this one. Because all they've really done is give their competition the edge that they've been waiting for. Because the second one comes along without the commercials, Youtube will be history for me.

Shelley Tzorfas

Children in the US seem to know more about pharmaceutical drugs and an array of diagnoses than in other countries. Mom, "Do I have Restless Leg Syndrome?" "Can I call my doctor and ask because the TV commercial says that I should?" "Mom, Do I have ED? What is Erectlile Dysfunction?" The TV ad says to "Go to my doctor right away, especially within 4 hours.."

Jeannette Bishop

Unfortunately, vaccines do get media promotion in the guise of health reporting and "public health" recommendations, which probably wouldn't stop with a ban on pharmaceutical advertising. It might be nice alternatively to see the media required to read out the list of side effects for any vaccine they might be promoting as well as any possible COI with ad revenue, etc.

Angus Files

I read this during the week.

"Five global banks to pay $5.7 billion in fines over rate rigging"

and at first I thought ,at last "justice" then the coin drops (pun intended)these tosser`s,(pun intended)are screwing trillions not billions from countries and destroying ,the countries they mess with for ever. It isn't even a slap on the wrist to the money junkies,and don`t do it again job...more like taking the box of matches away from the addict and leaving them with means to do it again, and again...


Cathy Jameson

Great points, Dan. One of the biggest reason we got rid of cable 4 years ago was because of the annoying pharma ads. When we want to watch a television show or movie, we stream it. It was nice to be shielded from them, but I knew it wouldn't last. Just a few months ago I discovered that YouTube was airing vaccine adverts. Ronan loves YouTube and watches quite a few videos. Imagine my shock when I heard one playing as Ronan's favorite video was loading. My typical children were just as shocked. Big sis quickly walked over and turned it off as Izzy, Ronan's 9yo sister sternly said, "Mom, he should NOT be listening to that. Don't they (YouTube) know what happened to Ronan?!" YouTube doesn't know, but my crew does. I am grateful that they can tune out the adverts when we come across them, but more importantly, I'm glad that they know how to turn the madness off.


LOL! Darn good thoughts on the subject. The analogy of the media on pharma money is like a drug addiction is exactly what is going on

And as we all know being on drugs makes a person illogical and withdrawing from a drug makes them crazy.

And that explains a lot what is going on with the media.
Yeah, withdrawal is a bitch.

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