Super Bowl Painkiller Addiction Ad

In the second quarter of Superbowl 50, Astra Zeneca ran a TV ad promoting a new medication to combat constipation from opioid medication called Movantik. The medication has been promoted since August, at the beginning of the football season. The black and white commercial appears to be a spoof, making light of the specific side effect. In the beginning, a man is sitting in a restaurant when he hears a toilet flush. Tall letters spell out “Envy,” as another man leaves the restroom with a smile on his face. The narrator explains, “If you need an opioid to manage your chronic pain, you may be so constipated, it feels like everyone can go, except you.” The camera then pans to a dog relieving himself on a patch of grass, presenting a silly overtone to the viewer.

The Increase In Opiate Use

The underlying message in the ad is hard to ignore. Unlike most Superbowl commercials for chips, sodas, and car insurance, Astra Zeneca promotes a medication to ease a side effect of opiate use. While this is not the first prescription drug to earn a spot in the Superbowl ad lineup, the Movantik ad is a clear indicator of the rise in opiate use. So, what necessitates a Superbowl commercial, at a staggering $5 million for a 30-second slot?

  • An estimated 114.4 million Americans watched the Superbowl in 2015
  • 259 million people were prescribed opioid pain relievers in 2012
  • Opioid prescriptions have more than quadrupled since 1999, and increased greatly (average of 37 percent) for each year between 2010 and 2013

With the rise in popularity, it is no wonder that side effect management for opiate use is a focal point in modern pharmaceuticals. Opioid medications can be a powerful tool for chronic pain, and Movantik may prove useful in relieving some discomfort from constipation during pain treatment. The magnitude of the ad, however, still raises a red flag. The need for this medication is clear, but so is the alarming increase in opiate use.

So, What’s The Big Deal?

Many patients are prescribed opioids for chronic pain, as well as for short-term use. Patients recovering from surgery, for example, may receive opioid medication for pain management during rehabilitation. While opioids are effective in easing discomfort, they carry a high risk for dependence if the necessary prescription is exceeded. This may lead to continued use, self-medication, and addiction. In some cases, patients may resort to illegal substances to satiate opiate dependency. This may lead to further complications:

  • 4 out of 5 people addicted to heroin started out using prescription opioids
  • In a 2014 survey, over 94 percent of heroin users claimed to use the drug because it is “easier to obtain than opioid prescriptions”
  • Aside from constipation, opiate use can cause serious side effects, further necessitating medication management for the symptoms
  • The number of opiate overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled since 1999, matching the increase in opioid prescriptions
  • Almost 19,000 overdose deaths occurred in 2014 due to prescription painkillers

The need for such a large advertising spot is indicative of the astonishing rise in opiate use over a short span of time. The numbers suggest that more liberal administration of opioids for pain management are responsible for increased cases of addiction and overdose death. When considering statistics, it’s hard to see the Movantik commercial as just a message about opiate-use constipation.

Seeking Treatment

The use of prescription opioids have skyrocketed over the past several years. The Movantik Super Bowl ad caused a big stir, as it is indicative of the overuse of opiates in the United States. With this incline in opiate use, we continue to see the incline in opiate addiction. Millions of people experience the toll that opiate addiction takes on everyday life. Personal, professional, and health complications are an unfortunate reality, leaving many feeling helpless. Thankfully, there are many options available for those seeking treatment.

We’re Here To Help

We can answer any questions you may have about prescription opioid use, preventative measures, and treatment resources in your area. Contact us today.Opioid medications can be beneficial for those suffering from chronic pain. In some cases, these highly addictive drugs develop into opiate dependence. If you or someone you know is suffering from opiate dependence, the caring staff at is here to help. We can answer any questions you may have about prescription opioid use, preventative measures, and treatment resources in your area. Contact us today.