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Monday, January 07, 2008

Promoting Promiscuity?


A few months ago, I noticed an ad on TV. This was after days of having my mother ask me if I'd seen it. It was for an OTC drug called i-pill. The drug helps terminate an unwanted pregnancy.


Since then, I have noticed at least 2 other drugs being advertised. And I am shocked to say the very least. As with cigarette packets, the advertisement for the pill carries a statutory warning:

Important safety aspects: i-pill is neither a regular contraceptive nor an abortion pill. It is not a substitute for condoms and does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.


How does this help? While on the one hand, we claim to be promoting sex education and are attempting to create greater awareness, on the other hand, we sell pregnancy termination drugs across the counter without a prescription. Are these the elements that a progressive society is made up of? While we have guys who are shy to pick up a pack of condoms, we expect our girls to pick up a drug such as this without as much as a prescription. No checks and balances in this system. Nothing that says "practice safe sex". Instead we have a product that says, 'Go ahead, have fun. If the girl happens to suffer later, that's fine." We seem to be treating the symptom than the disease.

While the advertisers are targeting married couples who may want to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, I think the real and bigger market is elsewhere. It is in our schools and colleges, our hostels and universities. Most married couples I have met have their own ways of preventing unwanted pregnancies. None of them involves swallowing a pill such as this. Of course I understand that my sample for this exercise has its limitations. Somehow I feel that this pill will give more power to molestors. It will give kids a different degree of independence that they, in my humble opinion, are not mature enough to handle. I feel that all this is nothing but promoting promiscuity.

16 comments:

Revathi said...

Feel the pain...what is your suggestion / solution

lipstick said...

But raaga getting the drug off the market is not the solution and getting a prescription is also not always easy given that time is a premium here. And the drug does help in a big way!After all its an emergency pill not something one uses regularly...

Btw did you know i-pill is not sold over the counter in TN.That is the only state where this happens and I don't agree with the policy.

Anonymous said...

I think I have to agree with lipstick. I wouldnt necessarily make the leap from an OTC drug to molesters rampaging either. They exist. Which sucks. I should know. But I guess thats a different story for a different day. I dont think they check themselves for fear of getting someone pregnant.

Maybe the issue is also how we handle the very real issue of rape. Its the girl/woman who is, for lack of any other word, shamed and how often is one reported for fear of public humiliation. Sometimes I think the system is very messed up. Actually its not just sometimes, I think that most often. Thankfully, I am at an age where I am taken seriously and can and will make a difference.

Wow! this comment has taken a life of its own. Apologies for the diversion. That aside, I am all for the pill. I think at the end of the day I'd rather take a safe pill than go to some quack who could do more damage. I just wish this country would pay more attention to mental health as well as physical.

Mysterious_Malady

PS: HNY !

Anonymous said...

On another note, I really wish birth control pills were a norm in this country rather than the exception and I am not talking about couples here. I think that should be the first stop right after puberty. But then thats probably wishful thinking, atleast for sometime to come.

I think its time we woke up and realized and acknowledged and acted on the fact that sex does happen and sometimes at an alarmingly inappropriate age.

MM.

Raaga said...

I think the solution may not be to get the drug off the market... I still think it should be a prescription drug. The problem is not getting pregnant... the problem is unsafe sex. I am not saying that kids shouldn't be having sex... let them do what they want... but this pill is telling them that they can have unsafe sex... and then just get the girl to pop a pill... sweet!

Raaga said...

And MM: why do you think birth control pills should be the norm after puberty? If only you had any idea what damage they are capable of doing, you'd not say that. A pill of any kind... should not be taken unless and until absolutely necessary. Even married couples have birth control methods that do not involve birth control pills or an emergency pregnancy prevention pill.

Raaga said...

@Lipstick: the deal is that YOU understand it is an emergency pill... not everyone does... people out there are going to see this as an easy way out... no discomfort, no side effects... but in reality we all know that there are bound to be side effects.

lipstick said...

Raaga: Just because this pill exits people will not be propelled towards unsafe sex. Those who are anyway into unsafe practice will continue to do so. This pill will come handy to those who realize that they have practiced unsafe sex want to avoid untimely pregnancies, especially women and girls who are more often than not let to deal with the issue all alone.Here I am talking about teenagers,rape victims and anyone else you can think of....

Given the pathetic state of sex education in our country it is more likely than not that a huge number of unsafe sex incidents will take place. Tell me if we start selling condoms in booths and make it as easily available as a telephone booth in India, will it increase the incidents of sex in anyways? Most likely than not it will increase safe sex and in process if it does marginally increase the incidents of sex then that is a small price to pay given that sex will at least be safe.

coming back to the prescription point, it is very idealistic that a gynecologist will be available and easily approachable given that time is premium in this case. thus making the drug a prescribed one will only make it unfriendly and less accessible to the public. Imagine if we made condoms available only after prescription...

sorry abt the loooong comment but could not help it :)

lipstick said...

I did not address the point of side effects.It is a two sided coin with some pros and cons as against other harmful things sold in the market like cigarettes. Solution maybe to give a good warning about the possible side effects, after all it is much better to prevent conception than to have an abortion three months down.

Anonymous said...

I really do think that there are birth control pills out there which are safe in the long run. Maybe making them a norm will make a pill like the one you mentioned redundant or else enable its (i-pill's) move to the prescription category.

All that aside, the mathematician and statistician in me would be interested in seeing the sales numbers after a 6 month period and I am sure the company has some sort of tracking (from a marketing perspective) planned. Would be interesting to see those numbers also.

MM.

Raaga said...

I don't think that equating condoms to an emergency pill is the right thing to do in this case. My whole crib is about making this so easily available... and about so much advertising. It is bound to meet with abuse.

Who is to track how many times a girl takes this pill? The warning is in fine print... as with cigarette packs. Thank heavens I don't see cigarette ads on TV...

I agree it is better to prevent conception rather than have an abortion, but I am saying that there are better ways to prevent that very conception. I'm surprised that we are saying things like accessibility of a gynaec... it is a 72 hour time frame... tell me you can't find a decent gynaec in 3 days.

Revathi said...

Even rat poison is so easily available and numerous people are committing suicide because of it...does that mean we take rat poison from free market too.

Making this a prescription medicine will only make it more expensive, since now you have to bribe a doctor, or call it a 'fee.'

Also, isn't it better to look at the roots of sex abuse than the effects?

Arundhati, I always play Devil's advocate, don't take me wrong.

Raaga said...

And terminating the pregnancy alone does not affect the roots... what I am saying is that "people" may look at this as an easy way out... the advertising makes it seem that way. Rat Poison is not advertised so much... I can't remember a single ad for rat poison. I am also saying the exact same thing... hit at the roots... not at the fruit!

Ritu said...

Actually, I agree with Raaga. The problem with quick fox solutions is that it always does more harm than good. If subject A takes this pill to avoid conception, lets assume, three times, will it affect her chances of having a baby when she wants one? Who is to educate her on that? It would have to be a Gynaec. Which means that this shud be a prescription drug that a doc can recommend, from case to case.

We can't have 16-17 year olds taking this drug several times over. God forbid! I am a mother and I know that even if my daughter is fearful of a pregnancy, I'd rather go to a professional than allow her to self medicate....

This drug just gives easy access...which may be unethical medically. Hell, sleeping pills and cough syrups in our country are not OTC drugs...how can such a drug be?

There is no justification...

Ann said...

As a physician, I think it is great that I-pill is over the counter. I don't think it's promoting unsafe sex. Even condoms do break. They are only 96% effective. It's giving women more power to choose rather the so called molesters.

By the way, i-pill is just a stronger birth control pill.
I mean literally there is more estrogen and progesterone in it.

Anyway I enjoy reading both blogs.

Sid said...

whats that old hindi thing about clapping? something to do with two hands i think.


sid