Some time in the recent past a memo went out, and as a result virtually all the TV ads for new drugs now include the deliberately awkward and puzzling phrase, “have happened,” or sometimes “have occurred.” First the ad ends with all the possible side effects of the drug and what conditions make it dangerous. Then we hear the list of all the maladies the drug “can cause.” Last of all, we learn that other undesirable things like early onset dementia, a taste for human brains or the dreaded ass-fall-off syndrome “have happened.”
Wait, what? Have happened why? Tornadoes, plagues and firebombings have happened too: why are these things that have happened mentioned in the drug commercial?
Here’s why: the manufacturers are fighting lawsuits alleging that the drugs caused these things to happen, but the companies are arguing in defense that causation is uncertain. By using the vague, passive “have happened,” they aren’t conceding that the drugs caused the problem, but it will still claim in later law suits that the customer was warned, and thus assumed the risk.
It’s double talk, essentially, and deceit. You are warned, but by warning you we aren’t admitting that there is anything to be warned about.
I hate this stuff.
Just thought I’d mention it.