New creative shows reality of prescription pill overdose deaths

The opioid crisis has dominated headlines for the last few months in the US and has become a hot-button topic politically. But deaths by prescription drugs (Rx) have risen as well, and the dangers of unsecured drugs left around the house is the very visceral topic of a new campaign by McCann Health.

Working with Care, the Center for Adolescent Research & Education, McCann Health created a harshly emotional spot that exposes the cold, hard reality of this relatively unknown, but deadly killer.

In the 100-second film, 'Pay the Price,' we watch a headphone-wearing teenager from his point of view saying goodbye to his mother, who takes some medication before leaving the house. The teen then goes through normal teen actions, like pouring juice and eating a bowl of cereal before, shockingly, vomiting and then stumbling through the living room before crashing through a glass coffee table. The spot then rewinds to ask if we have the real story. The scene plays again, but this time the POV shows the teen taking the medications his mother took then rummaging through the medicine cabinet and bedside night stand to find and take more pills. After crashing through the table, he tries to call someone before collapsing.

The copy afterwards reads: “Prescription drug-induced seizure. Paid for by you.” It then shows stats for drunk driving deaths and suicide deaths per day in the US, comparing with Rx drug abuse deaths, which tick up at nearly twice the rate of the others combined before pleading with parents to “create a prescription drug safe home, or pay the price."

Said Stephen Gray Wallace, Care president and director: “Our youth are our future and while they may think they are invincible, they are not. Based on the compelling fact that there are almost 300 Rx drug abuse deaths in the US per day, McCann Health delivered a very confronting idea for a film to open people's eyes and the address the issue of prescription drug abuse that would not only educate young people but parents as well.”

Jeremy Perrott, McCann Health global chief creative officer, created the film that is meant to be a wake-up call that delivers a shocking moment of truth, like a stinging slap across the face that shines a light on the danger of what can happen if parents do not take steps to create a prescription drug safe home.

Perrott explained: “We needed to address the incredible facts and be deliberately confrontational with a message, that equaled the punch of the cold, hard statistics. Drunk driving deaths in the US per day: 28. Suicide deaths in the US per day: 120+ and Rx drug abuse deaths in the US per day: 290 and counting.”

Wallace added, “This film does more than expose what we are missing at home, but clearly lays out the environment in which it happens. I was further impressed with the fact that everyone on the small film crew – from director, to support team – were either survivors of, or had lost or saved a loved one, from this global killer. We must pay attention to what is happening – and not sugarcoat the messaging – or we will certainly pay the price.”

Perrott concluded: “There comes a time when we have to be honest with ourselves and not use soft, gentle language to soften the blow of the truth. The simple fact that we are all guilty of leaving prescription drugs around our homes means that the deaths of thousands of children in their homes, around the world. I hope this film raises awareness of the danger of overdosing on prescribed medication and motivates parents to take steps to create a prescription drug safe home.”

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