British viewers streaming Meghan and Harry interview horrified by ‘dystopian’ American pharma ads

UK viewers unfamiliar with being treated as customers and not patients when seeking treatment

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Monday 08 March 2021 18:45
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British viewers who tuned in to watch Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were shocked by more than the couple’s revelations regarding their exit from royal life.

Those who were able to stream the interview live from CBS in the US were treated to the unfamiliar sight of advertising for prescription drugs by pharmaceutical companies.

The concept is alien to a UK audience and almost unique to the US.

Writer Ayesha Siddiqi documented the stunned, confused, and horrified reactions of Brits on Twitter.

“American medical adverts are some real dystopian s*** how you gonna tell me I might die,” read one tweet.

Others noted that American healthcare is “truly a business” and said that if this is what it is like not to have the National Health Service, then they never want to experience it.

“How are the side effects of the medicine in American ads more lethal than the thing they’re treating???” asked a Twitter user.

The ads were variously called “post-apocalyptic” and “unhinged” and some questioned the use of the phrase “tell your doctor” arguing that surely your doctor, a qualified medical professional, should be the one advising you on medication.

“Why are so many of [the ads] for meds? Are yall ok?” asked a concerned viewer.

Ms Siddiqi rounded out her collection of tweets by saying: “Americans it’s weird to them bc in the UK it’s illegal to advertise prescription drugs to the general public. Over there, people seeking healthcare are considered patients not customers.”

The only two countries in the world that allow unfettered direct-to-consumer ads for prescription medication are the US and New Zealand. Elsewhere, the practice is heavily regulated or banned.

The American Medical Association called for a ban on drug advertising in 2015.

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