For British viewers, Oprah Winfrey’s bombshell special on the royal family was also an exposé of the American pharmaceutical industry.
Those in England who streamed Sunday’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were shocked to see advertisements for prescription drugs including Skyrizi, Kisqali and Jardiance. Advertising prescription drugs is banned in the United Kingdom — and most of the world, excluding the US and New Zealand.
Writer Ayesha A. Siddiqi compiled many of the most stunned reactions in a Twitter thread titled “british people reacting to american pharmaceutical ads during the harry/meghan interview.”
“If these medicine ads are what it’s like to not have an NHS I never want to experience that,” tweeted one horrified individual, referring to the UK’s National Health Service.
“Nah…how are the side effects of the medicine in American ads more lethal than the thing they’re treating???” wrote another.
“These medical adverts and the side effects though. American healthcare truly is a business,” noted a third.
Other critics called the ads “surreal” and “unhinged” and said they made them feel like they were “in some post-apocalyptic world.”
Many expressed feeling a renewed gratefulness for their nation’s national healthcare system.
Siddiqi ended the thread with a note explaining the reaction to Americans who find such advertisements completely normal. “[In] the UK it’s illegal to advertise prescription drugs to the general public. Over there, people seeking healthcare are considered patients not customers,” Siddiqi wrote.
In a follow-up post after her thread went viral, Siddiqi called Brits’ “shock and disgust” at the commercials a “grim demonstration of how unique America’s healthcare system is.”
The interview, which 17.1 million viewers streamed on CBS on Sunday night, was “a rare moment of outsiders viewing American live tv,” Siddiqi went on, and ended up serving as a moment of reflection by non-Americans on “how unnecessarily painful and strange this country is.”
The Queen released an official statement on Tuesday, saying “the whole family is saddened” by the interview, adding that the “issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning” — although “recollections may vary.”