(Image: Supplied)

When I arrived in the United States, one of the first things I did was turn on network TV and wait for something I’d heard about but never seen -- advertisements for prescription medication.

For 30 seconds I watched someone journey from grey, gloomy husk to colourful, bubbly socialite living their best life. Simultaneously the voiceover warned me I could experience side effects that may include diarrhoea or an inability to find the car keys or something along those lines. The warnings were forgettable but the positive imagery and the name of the drug stuck.

Thankfully, advertising prescription medication directly to consumers is prohibited in Australia. Instead the drug companies direct their influence towards doctors via traditional media and by inserting themselves into medical education and networking events.