"Which one did you want?" I ask.
"I don't know," she replied.
Then HOW do you know you really need it? goes through my mind, but I tell the patient that Claritin-D comes in 12 hour and 24 hour formulas and in different counts. It's the same with most of the other behind the counter pseudoephedrine products.
If I'm up for it, I'll take the time to ask the patient about their symptoms and 90% of the time it turns out that they really don't "need" Claritin-D or whatever else they've come to the pharmacy counter to get. The magic of TV advertising has put an idea in their head that they need that particular product and by golly they're going to rush right down to the pharmacy for that magic elixir of life, but I'm not a fan of the side effects with pseudoephedrine and I'll talk people out of it if given the chance.
I watch TV too and while I don't think there is anything unethical about the commercials, they do give people the idea that they "need" the product. I guess that's the way the world works with advertising, but when you're talking about pharmaceuticals, I think a better approach might be warranted... how about listing the nasty side effects like prescription drugs advertising has to do?
Now enjoy a funny Claritin-D parody: