Category Archives: ageism

Big Pharma wants to know: How do you feel about getting old?

Pfizer pharmaceuticals popped a side bar ad onto my Facebook page titled, “Get Old.” Curious, I clicked on it and was taken to a page that offered to me the following choices for how I feel about getting old: optimistic, angry, prepared, and uneasy.

These are all medicalized, pharmaceutically lucrative views of aging. Choices 1,2 and 4 all suggest problems (lack of optimism, anger, uneasiness) that Pfizer could offer a drug for (anti-depressants, anti-anxiety). “Prepared” is intriguing. How do you prepare to be old? I never “prepared” to be 20, for example.  Does it mean “emotionally prepared for the horribleness that is ‘old’?”  And if I am not prepared, will I be overwhelmed (and in need of drug…..)? Perhaps it is meant to mean “financially prepared.”  But, again, why would Big Pharma care about that–unless you have anxiety about your finances….and bingo! we have a drug for that.

The ad does not suggest “happy” or “empowered.” Obviously a content older person doesn’t need massive doses of psychotropic drugs. If we buy into the acculturation that being old is miserable, of course we’re going to need drugs to cope.

Therefore, the drug companies do well for themselves to market “old” as unhappiness to profit, profit, profit.