Hepatitis C on Television

Hepatitis C on Television

Commercials

Now, more than ever, television commercials are filled with advertisements for prescription drugs. A few of these feature drugs for hepatitis C. Often, the commercial shows a happy couple on a boat or on a beach frolicking along while the voiceover talks about the newest hepatitis C medication. In some of these ads, the people in them talk to the camera about how great their lives are. It can lead any viewer to assume that the drug being advertised is fancy and new and to envision their own lives as being so carefree. While hepatitis C treatment can transform your life, it is important to note that not every medication is right for all patients. Hepatitis C has numerous strains (called genotypes). Not every medication works for all genotypes. This may mean that the medication you saw on television may not be right for you. While you can always ask your doctor to explain why they are prescribing one drug over another, it is important to recognize that the doctor’s goal is to focus on your specific type of hepatitis C and your personal health.

Old Television Shows

Many networks fill their schedule with reruns of popular shows. Some networks choose to air medical dramas. Often, these types of shows feel relevant and engaging long after the show stops being made. Although this can make for great television, it can also be confusing for some viewers. This is because some of the treatment plans or suggestions given in the show may have been up-to-date at the time but may now be months, years, or even decades behind current medical knowledge. This can even be true for currently airing shows that have had many seasons but may have earlier seasons airing on other stations. This does not mean that the information was bad at the time or that you cannot discuss what you see with your doctor, but it may not mean that what you see is the right treatment plan for you. As technology and medical research are ever evolving, it is crucial to recognize that information on a television show can be outdated very quickly and that some scenes may be based more on the need for ratings or moving a storyline forward than on what treatment may work best for viewers.

New Television Shows

Often, people assume that new or currently airing television shows are on the cutting edge of information, that they discuss medical trends that haven’t even made it to the public yet. Sometimes this is true. Sometimes it is true with caveats. For example, a medical drama may discuss two treatment options where the doctors argue over which is best. The end result does not necessarily mean that this treatment truly is the best in real life; it may be that the television show was simply creating conflict between the two doctor characters. In addition, patients on television shows may be shown experiencing side effects of medical treatment that can be far more dramatic than in real life. It important to remember that the writers’ focus is on the storylines, not on the viewers’ personal histories. Plus, it is rare for these shows to acknowledge issues or debates with insurance companies unless it leads to the introduction of a character who represents the insurance companies or causes viewers to root for the young doctor character who passionately argues for the needs of his patient. In real life, it is common for doctors to consider numerous medication options and risks of side effects as well as what drugs are covered by the patient’s insurance (if they have insurance) before writing a prescription to a patient.

No matter what you see on television, you can always ask your doctor about it. However, it is important to keep in mind that these commercials and shows are intended to cause the viewer to feel a certain way, but you and your health care team should always come to the best decision for you!1-3

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The HepatitisC.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
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