Do you remember this advertisement?
And then came the discovery that the Phenacetin was causing certain cancers and kidney damage.
I can recall the shockwaves that went through the suburbs, as mothers talked about how many Bex tablets they had been taking (lots of them) and how it would now affect them and especially, could they stop taking them.
The high-dose caffeine and highly addictive Phenacetin in the Bex tablets and the frequency that women had been encouraged to take them meant that millions of women were addicted to the APC, (Aspirin, Phenacetin, and Caffeine), heavily advertised, drug combination. Marketing had encouraged women to think of popping a Bex in their mouth, as a pick-me-up in a busy or stressful day, to be as natural a thing to do as having a cup of tea and a brief rest from chores.
Not only were women hooked on the stuff (the marketing was predominately directed towards women) but the Bex formula created a booming business for the laxative trade.
The APC and laxative combination mucked up so many women's gastric tracts, many never recovered. Their stressed bodies developed gastrointestinal ulcers. Women were then said to be “highly-strung” and subject to emotional disturbances. Rather than helping the user relax, the Caffeine level in the APC formula pills or powders had most users, “jumpy”.
Bex was never a suitable medication for the conditions it was sold for.
It was bad medicine and irresponsibly advertised medicine.
"Are you too fat, too fat, too fat?
Take Ford Pills."
With growth in the laxative trade, brought about by advertising them to produce well behaved children and a slim body, Marketers shoved a serious disorder of eating and then purging, at women.
The obnoxious jungle: "Are you too fat, too fat, too fat? Take Ford Pills," came at the start of television advertising.
No one bothered to explain, in the advertisement that Ford Pills, that they were a just a laxative. They were marketed as a way to gain an ideal body, sold for weight control. Women who took laxatives, long-term, for weight loss, as a result of marketing pressure promoting it as normal, not only had diarrhoea, dehydration, and developing malnutrition, many ended up with osteoporosis and lifelong bowel function problems.
Needless to say, popping a laxative in your mouth, after having had your cup of tea and a Bex, became a part of suburban culture for women responding to the repetitive advertising presented as ' correct' forms of behavior, and health coaching for women.
All of that, of course, was just another fraud, designed to make heaps of money for the advertisement sponsors.
Are people less gullible today?
Television and radio advertisements are now regulated. Facebook ads and internet memes are not. There is just as much damaging information and “fake” news circulating today, as ever there was.