Health Board: Ads for medications often mislead people ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Flu season.
Flu season. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

According to the Health Board, advertisements for medicines are often exaggerated and give people the idea that they can start working immediately after taking the medication. According to the State Agency of Medicines, it is up to consumers to know when it is time to return to their usual routine.

Drug advertising often portrays people suffering from a flu who, once using a medicine, appear to be recovering miraculously. There are many such advertisements, ranging from joint medications to antipyretics. According to the Health Board, they can be misleading to those who are seriously ill but trying to get help, for example, from over-the-counter medications seen in advertisements. According to Simmo Saar, communications manager of the Health Board, the ads of different manufacturers are relatively similar.

''They show a sick person lying in bed who is visibly ill, maybe has a thermometer in his mouth, he is resting his head on a pillow and at the same time he needs to go somewhere, he drinks that flu remedy, the fever disappears, he finds energy to go to a rock concert, a kid's graduation event, a baseball game and then he goes there and he is very happy and all because he has been drinking the flu tea," Saar said.

According to Saar, it is not that easy in reality and even if, for example, the medicine reduces the fever and reduces the symptoms of the disease, it does not mean that the person is healthy.

''If he goes out, he's still infecting others. He may have complications if he goes out sick to do things he shouldn't do,'' Saar said. ''Of course, you can use these preparations, they will certainly help, they will make you feel better, they will help you fight fever, but what they are certainly not doing is that they do not immediately heal the person and you should not actually go out thinking that I've drunk the flu tea and now I can go to work or school.''

According to Ott Laius, Head of the Medicines Safety Department of the State Agency of Medicines, everyone needs to be aware of how they feel and whether it is wise to go to work, school or a social event. According to him, the ads bring out the most beautiful part of life, so to speak.

''These drugs generally relieve fever, pain, undoubtedly improve how the person is feeling, but whether he is able to continue their daily lives after taking this medicine also depends largely on how severe his illness is and whether it's a common cold or flu,'' Laius said.

According to Laius, it is not possible to judge whether people are buying drugs in reasonable quantities or not.

''The medication itself is not bad. There is every reason to use medicine when a person is ill, for example, if somebody is hurting somewhere, it is certainly more sensible to take the medicine and reduce the pain than to suffer, but that presupposes that the use of the drug has to be justified," Laius said.

''There is no need, of course, to take the medication with no reason. Whether, when and how, can be evaluated by a person with the help of a pharmacist who will certainly give good recommendations on which over-the-counter drug to take at the moment. ''

Flu is on the rise

Inluenza has been on the rise in recent weeks, but according to Saar, it is common. For example, between January 27 and February 2, nearly 4,000 people turned to doctors because of upper respiratory viral infections, which is 25 percent more than a week earlier. He said that while the rate of illness among children has begun to slow, it has risen sharply among people of working age and older.

''In fact, those working-age people are the ones who love to play with these symptoms the most. You need to go to work, you need to make money, then you drink the flu tea, you get the fever down and you go on with your daily routine. This year, too, we are seeing a higher rate of complications among this age group," said Saar,

Both the Health board and Medicines Agency insist that you should seek medical attention if you have any flu symptoms. The flu season in Estonia lasts until the beginning of May.

Editor: Roberta Vaino

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