A new ad for the prescription drug Invokana features smiling people as a voiceover describes the possible side effects, one of which could life-threatening (video below).
Invokana (along with diet and exercise) is prescribed to help people with Type 2 Diabetes lower their blood sugar numbers, but the ad includes a laundry list of potential side effects, according to Mediaite.
The actors in the ad are seen smiling between the :44 to 1:36 marks, while walking through a magical land of special effects triggered by hand-held objects.
During the cool visuals, the side effects in the voiceover include: dehydration, dizziness, faintness, light-headedness, weakness while standing, kidney problems, genital yeast infections, changes in urination, risks of bone fracture, urinary tract infections and diabetic ketoacidosis, "which can be life-threatening," according to the commercial.
People with severe liver or kidney conditions, as well as those on dialysis are warned not to take the medication.
The ad also shows a smiling older man with a smiley-face ping pong paddle as more warnings are mentioned by the narrator.
Invokana is one of many prescriptions advertised on American TV, but the U.S. and New Zealand are the only countries that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medications, The Huffington Post noted in 2014.
The American Medical Association called for a ban on DTC advertising in November 2015, reported The People's Pharmacy.
The AMA said "[t]he negative impact of commercially-driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices … Direct-to-consumer advertising also inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate."
However, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said in a press release (in response to the AMA) that the ads are "[p]roviding scientifically accurate information to patients so that they are better informed about their health care and treatment options."
Providing scientifically accurate information and medical treatment options have long been recognized as the traditional roles of doctors and other licensed medical professionals.