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Big Pharma Targets Seniors by Using 70's Songs in Television Commercials

Updated on February 23, 2020
Cheryl E Preston profile image

Cheryl is an advocate for Senior Citizens and enjoys writing articles that help aging adults live better lives


Big Pharma manipulates older Americans

If you watch network television, you may have noticed the increase in commercials for prescription drugs during the past few years. There was a time when health care providers chose the medications they believed would work best for their patients. Today, because of slick advertisements, the patients can now sit in their doctor's office armed with a list of drugs that they would like to try. The television adds actually suggest that consumers talk to their physicians regarding the products that are being peddled across the air ways. There are at least six pharmaceutical companies that are targeting baby boomers,(those born between 1948 and 1964), by using popular hit songs from the 1970's. These are Novartis’ Entresto, Amgen’s Repatha, Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic, GlaxoSmithKline’s Trelegy, Sanofi's Toujeo.

Many older Americans today remember fondly the catchy tunes from their past, which are in stark contrast to today's music which often is filled with profanity and sexually explicit lyrics. A lot of senior citizens utilize oldies radio stations in order to listen to songs they were fond of in decades gone by. Sadly, Big Pharma is using manipulation that may take away the joy of how music used to be. Pilot had a hit song in 1975 entitled It's Magic, but now, because of television commercials, instead of singing "Oh Oh Oh It's Magic, an individual might instead sing "Oh Oh Oh Ozempic. The commercial for this drug comes on many times during the daytime hours when the Soap Opera's are on. In addition to utilizing music to plant subliminal messages, the announcer for these commercials rattles off a list of ugly side effects and usually ends by saying "death."

I can't speak for anyone else, but after hearing that a product may cause other health issues, including raising blood pressure, and blood sugar and may cause infections, I would never ask for it. I've talked to other seniors who say they are turned off as well by all the possible side effects. The fact that these commercials are still on the air indicates that somewhere in America, someone is buying what they are selling.

Music misused as a selling tool

A 2015 Nielsen study revealed something quite interesting that the pharmaceutical companies have obviously latched onto. Television commercials with music had an effect on four metrics that advertising without music did not. These were empathy, information power, emotive power and creativity. Additional research on the subject has revealed that utilizing background music related to the product is especially helpful. Consider the commercial for heart failure drug Entresto, where the background music is "And the Beat goes on " by The Whispers. This upbeat song playing while the announcer is saying that the drug can keep your heart beating on and on will surely manipulate someone to believe they need this particular prescription.

Last year I had a relative who had a heart attack and he was prescribed Entresto. The cardiologist said this miracle drug would keep his heart beating for many years to come. The downside was that Entresto cost $1300 for a 30 day supply and because it was new, there was no generic brand. My family member filled out a card for a one time 30 day supply but did not receive the coupon until a month later which means he went 30 days without the miracle drug in his system. He was concerned because at the end of the 30 days he still did not have $1300. He added that His God was bigger than the issue and would get him through this and it looks like his God did. When he went to the cardiologist after the 60 day period, having only used Entresto for 30 of those days, the cardiologist was amazed. My relative's heart ejection fracture had been 33 at the time he was hospitalized and a defibrillator or pacemaker was being suggested. During this follow up visit he was told that his heart ejection fracture was 66 which was close to normal, and he did not need the Entresto. Now when he sees the television commercial he just laughs. It's been a year and he is still going strong on a medication that he can afford.

Pharmaceutical companies have become drug pushers

One of the most famous groups of the 1970s was The Jackson Five. One of their first hits was "ABC." The rap group Naughty by Nature sampled from this song on their hit entitled "OPP." There probably are not many individuals who did not see the J5 singing this hit on American Bandstand and The Ed Sulivan Show. The prescription drug Trelegy now uses the tune in its television commercial. One day when ABC was playing on the car radio, I caught myself because instead of "ABC, Do Re Mi", I was about to sing Trelegy 123. It's obvious that Big Pharma knows exactly what they are doing. These songs have catchy tunes and bring back memories. The change in lyrics has baby boomers singing about the overpriced drugs and asking their health care providers to prescribe them.

This is nothing more than pharmaceutical companies pushing their products on unsuspecting individuals. it makes them no better than dealers who sell illegal drugs. There has been an outcry because of the overuse of opioids and there needs to be some accountability with the other medications that are targeting consumers through television commercials. What consumers need to keep in mind is that just like other products that are marketed through television adds, the benefits of the drugs are being overhyped just to get a sale.

Consumers have the right to choose

A petition on calling for all drug ads to be pulled from television received more than 130,000 signatures. In addition, The AMA, (American Medical Association) has called for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs. As of this date Congress has yet to act on the ban, so the commercials continue. The Kaiser Family Health Foundation conducted a survey where 89% of respondents said they wanted the FDA to reviews adds for prescription drugs before they aired. At this time it is against the law for the FDA to do this, so they must rely on consumer complaints. One woman who signed the petition gave an interesting reason for doing so. She stated that Big Pharma does not create cures, they create cures. That is something that should be taken to heart.

Trisha Cast, who portrayed Nina Webster on The Young and the Restless recently lost her husband to colon cancer. The actress said they refused a treatment that would have diminished her. spouse's quality of life. Like this couple consumers have choices. No one has to choose a prescription drug just because it is being advertised on television. Always check with your health care provider and make your own choice when it comes to your health and your life. Big Pharma's grip can be loosened if it's tackled one individual at a time.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Cheryl E Preston


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    • Cheryl E Preston profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl E Preston 

      5 months ago from Roanoke

      Yes Ms Dora they have.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 months ago from The Caribbean

      "Pharmaceutical companies have become drug pushers." I second that, and am alarmed at how much unsuspecting people get taken, even after hearing the dangerous side effects. Happy for your relative escaping the scam.

    • Cheryl E Preston profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl E Preston 

      6 months ago from Roanoke

      I love METV which plays the oldies. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • Ken Burgess profile image

      Ken Burgess 

      6 months ago from Florida

      No surprise, the goal of advertising is to find what works on the target audience and use it.

      I advocate not watching cable tv at all, thus avoiding all the nonsense ads as well as the cable bill.

      I find that hooking up a small antenna and pulling in the couple dozen channels it brings in is more than enough for me on those rare days I want to watch tv.

      Its amazing in this day and age of streaming services and old-school free antenna tv, that anyone pays for cable... which is loaded with ads.

    • Cheryl E Preston profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl E Preston 

      6 months ago from Roanoke

      Yes I saw that too. It’s sad.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      6 months ago

      I recently watched a documentary on how the big Pharma companies are responsible for the opioids epidemic in America. There should definitely be a ban on this type of advertising as it's destroying peoples lives. Thank you for shining the spotlight on this issue Cheryl.

    • Cheryl E Preston profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl E Preston 

      6 months ago from Roanoke

      Thank you Carolyn

    • Cheryl E Preston profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl E Preston 

      6 months ago from Roanoke

      Yes. It’s disgusting

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia Zirkwitz 

      6 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Well-written piece of journalism Cheryl. I have no TV set so am out of the loop where pharmaceutical advertising is concerned, but I know that it is Big Business. Really interesting that you noticed how they are absconding with the music of our generation to hook us.

    • Carolyn M Fields profile image

      Carolyn Fields 

      6 months ago from South Dakota, USA

      I have noticed the same thing - and not just for pharma. Using classic rock music to sell to Baby Boomers is everywhere.

      As for manipulating seniors into buying something they don't need - I totally agree.


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