High Cholesterol

I choose to right about the heavy medicalized condition of high cholesterol, this condition is particularly over-medicalized in the U.S. I am not saying that it cannot be a serious medical condition, but the overuse of medications when dealing with high cholesterol, especially only moderately high cholesterol, has made it one of the most heavily medicalized conditions in America. I believe that both cultural and economic factors have played the biggest role in this illness being over-marketed and over-treated with drugs. First, is the issue that culture has played in this, the reluctance of Americans to be responsible for their own health has been a big issue, people want to eat anyway they please and not exercise and then expect biomedical interventions to enhance their lives by keeping their cholesterol low, their blood pressure done, and so forth, without the effort on their parts. I know there are people who live very active lifestyles and still suffer from high cholesterol, but they are in the minority. This condition should not turn to medications first, which is what often happens due to the second major factor in this over-medicalization, the economic business of biomedicine.  Due to the heavy promotion of drugs as the first option when someone has high cholesterol, due to heavy advertisement that permeates the American biomedical culture; doctors often turn to these drugs first, instead of working with the patients to decrease their cholesterol naturally. Also, patients see these advertisements and request these medications from their doctors, thinking this is the best possible way to treat their conditions.

I have included a couple of links to commercials for cholesterol medications. The first includes a link to a Lipitor commercial featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik, the creator of the artificial heart, and at the time this commercial aired it was seen as one of the most dishonest drug ads out there, due to the minimalization of the harmful side effects this drug can cause. One of the advertising strategies used in this advertisement was using Dr. Jarvik as an authority figure and as someone who had access to privileged medical knowledge. It also used him in order to give a sense that it was a patient-doctor interaction, like your doctor talking directly to you, saying you need to ask about this drug. Overall, the commercial tried to present a sleek, modern presentation that was to appeal to consumers, hinting that this drug was the latest and greatest that biomedicine had to offer.

Commercial Sources:

1-      Pfizer. (Producer). (2010). Lipitor tv commercial – robert jarvik. [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rt1xRPEjhrk

2-      Pfizer. (Producer). (2012). Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) tablets tv commercials. [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.lipitor.com/toolsresources/lipitorontv.aspx

3 thoughts on “High Cholesterol

  1. I agree with your analysis, our culture looks for quick answers instead of long term, hence pharmaceuticals. This commercial does use a scientist/engineer as an authority to make this ad look futuristic. I also want to point our that graphics in the background as well as the animation of ‘heart disease’ they did to further reinforce the futuristic image and make you feel like as you like your ‘heart tubes’ (as they made it seem) will naturally get clogged up as you eat and you will perish unless you take this drug.
    Lipitor and drugs similar to it have the same idea, an instant answer to a problem that has a much safer but not instant solution (diet and exercise). I think this is a reflection of our society that expects instant gratification and is so fast paced that we can’t expect to eat right and exercise. It also shows a growing trend in medecine. In this commercial they aren’t just going after people who are active and have high cholesterol because of genetics or other causes, they are reaching out to people who need a solution who may not even have tried other solutions. The video for class showed how the actual number of men who need Viagra is very little but many more get it because it ‘enhances’ as well and becomes a solution to even sub 100% percent performance. Like this Lipitor is also reaching out to even those who may not need it and may have other (and arguably better) solutions available to them. In this way they increase their market by essentially creating one.

  2. Although this is not something I would have considered, I very much agree. Thanks to the medical community and the common desire for a quick fix, medication has unfortunately become the answer to many of societies problems (big and small). So rather than eating right and exercizing, &/or our doctors & health professionals making sure we do, we get prescribed these ‘quick fixes’ (not that some don’t work & still have problems). This is to be expected in a society too busy (& lazy) to do anything more than is required. Not to mention, how over medicated our society has become. There seems to be a medication for everything these days. Its become common to be taking something even when unneeded. For example, the Lipitor advertisement along with many others (including the ones in the weeks materials) seem to imply that its something everyone can at least use, if not needs. This causes consumers to seek out treatment (even when not needed) and greatly expands their market. This is also done through privileged information.
    I think you did a great job analyzing the advertisement. The imaging and futuristic feel implies the newest a greatest medication on the market as you said, and they use a Dr./scientist to imply an access to privileged information, as well as a doctor-patient interaction. They also, explain that you should talk to your own doctor to receive further information and discuss use. However, what I found interesting is that at the end they seem to contradict this by saying to visit their website for a free trial. This allows for a self diagnosis, as well as access for people that maybe have no insurance or cannot afford such medications (or drs. visits), which is yet another way to expand their consumer base.

  3. I think that is it pretty interesting that not only your choose high cholesterol to examine but also the drug that some clinicians act as though it is the holy grail to reducing cholesterol. After looking that the Liptor commercial you posted I would have to agree with your analysis. Of course this drug managed to gain high levels of popularity when you have someone as famous as Dr Jarvik, inventor of the artificial heart endorse your product in your ads. If I was a patient with high cholesterol I would see this endorsement as a sign of the safety of such a product because here is a scientist telling me that he thinks that this would be a great product for those dealing with this illness. For some it may even distract from the potential side effects listed as the commercial is ending.
    Describe the role of medications in American society in the contexts of medicalization and biomedicalization? What does it say about our cultural values and ideologies about health, wellbeing and success? Use examples from the readings and film
    I agree with your statements that American culture often searches for a pill to answer the problems that they face. It seems like such a simple solution to the illness that many of us have instead of trying alternative methods like changing their diet, being move active, and therapeutic methods, etc. This was something that was seen in the pill poppers film as we saw the people coming into the couch area to sit on the couch showing the medications that they take and the pills for total well being and weight loss that they would like.

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