Dr. Marc answers readers’ question every other week. To send a query, click here.
Dear Dr. Marc,
How about the use of cartoon characters in TV commercials for Prozac? My 7-year-old knows about Prozac because of these commercials. Fortunately, we have talked with him about how mental illness is not always from a chemical imbalance, but the commercials did make an impact on him. Any possibility that the ad agency is targeting children?
Atlantic Highlands, NJ
You bring up an excellent point. Clearly a child who sees a cartoon character they like might then ask for the product, which is potentially quite harmful. In addition to possibly targeting children, I suspect the larger purpose of cartoon characters in this context is to show off a durable, malleable and cheerful character who would then be associated with the drug. Remember, cartoon characters don’t have sexual dysfunction or stomach upset or dizziness the way a normal human being might from Prozac. The implication is that if you take Prozac you can be animated too. You can fall off cliffs and come out unscathed like Wyle E. Coyote.
Dear Dr. Marc,
Can you explain the various federal proposals to provide prescription drug assistance to the elderly? This would include both the Democratic and Republican versions.
Essentially, the Republicans use big-business dollars and corporate tax incentives to fund much of this privately–while the Democrats try to draw the money more from the government, especially Medicare. The problem with both programs is that neither considers that the drugs themselves may be overpriced, that many are duplicates and that many are unnecessary. Universal coverage of prescription drugs may be essential, but not necessarily of ALL our current drugs at ALL these prices.
Dear Dr. Marc,
In your introductory article you mention the “question of mandatory HIV testing for convicted rapists, which has been miscast as a civil rights issue on behalf of the convict.” This is, in my opinion, an ethical problem in which the relative rights that the involved people have to protection and privacy are being weighed. But it also has evident connotations regarding public health. My question would be: Can questions regarding ethics, vulnerability, social exclusion and public health be separated?
I think the key word in your question is “weighed.” When weighing all these issues, ethical as well as health and social, it seems clear that any decision contains a value judgment. But what is ethics, if not a weighing of different values? In this case, a woman’s health, and potentially that of an unborn fetus, may be put in jeopardy by a hidden disease dispensed by a rapist. I don’t believe the issues can be separated. In my mind, the rights of a victim in such a case outweigh the rights of the criminal. If a choice is mandated by circumstance, we must choose to preserve the civil rights of our victims.