Well, the makers of Lyrica have done it again! Gather round, all you in fibro fog. I’ll tell you what I think of this one.
This new commercial, like the first 2, does an adequate job of informing the general public about fibromyalgia. And gratefully, we no longer have a whining woman as did the first ad. I guess that’s some progress.
However, like the first two ads, this one also does the “contrast” speech. You know, “I felt just awful with my fibromyalgia before, not able to do everyday things, etc.” Then the first two proceeded to “Now that my doctor tried me on Lyrica, I can do all sorts of things again,” followed by the woman writing in her diary or gardening. (Yes, gardening was a bit of improvement over writing and whining.) If you’ve read my reviews of the first two ads, you know that I have issues with drug advertising directly to the public. But I also took issue with the presentations – the whining, the defeatism, the miraculous turn around.
I looked at the new ad through the same lens and noted some old complaints as well as a couple of new points. If you haven’t seen the ad yet, you will. In the meantime, let me describe it for you.
We open on a middle-aged woman with silvery-white hair (beautifully coiffed, I might add) sitting at a table. She tells us how fibromyalgia limited her life and how she suffered with the pain. But no more, she tells us as the camera begins to pan out and the music swells. Lyrica has changed her life. We see she’s sitting in a cafe in a very “old Europe” style setting – perhaps Venice or Rome, with the music we hear. A good looking man who is supposed to be her age (but to me looks younger) walks up. She gets up and they walk away, conversing. Later we see them at a street fountain (hence my leaning toward an Italian theme). They are relaxed and smiling – having so much fun.
So what do I have to complain about? Don’t get me started. (By the way, I originally had a typo in the first sentence here – I wrote compain instead of complain – how Freudian is that?)
There is no whining, so that’s good. But it’s still presenting this drug, which is approved for fibromyalgia as an “off use” since it’s actually made to treat another type of nerve pain, as a miracle drug. “First I had pain, then it was gone thanks to the drug.” It’s like magic – now you see it, now you don’t. Those of us with fibromyalgia know that no one even knows what causes this condition or what system is really affected. It may be lessened by various medications, but it is not cured. Heck, they don’t even call it a disease because “all it is” is a bunch of symptoms that are seen in patient after patient.
Besides that, I couldn’t put my finger on what was really bugging me about this third commercial at first. So after the first viewing, I made it a point to really watch the details in the commercial. After several more views, it hit me.
Every one of the 3 commercials has, at it’s center, a beautiful, fit, really healthy looking woman who has style and grace and looks like a model.
While I admit that there are likely some fibromyalgia sufferers who look like this, I personally find it difficult to imagine being that fit when I can’t even exercise on a regular basis. So are they saying that, if I take this drug, I’ll be able to exercise and look like that? Or are they trying to have us believe that fibromyalgia patients all look like models, except me, of course?
So, where does the middle-aged frump (me) see herself in this ad? Or the teenager who has just started the road with fibromyalgia? Or the man who is in the minority of sufferers (you know there’d be more research money if it wasn’t a “primarily female” disease that doesn’t strike a body part used sexually)?
I think, if these drug companies are going to promote their drugs on TV, they should have to use actual patients who have really used the drug to tell the truth about their experience. It wouldn’t be as glamorous, of course. But I’ll take truth over glamour every day!