Requip and Mirapex promise relief for Restless Legs Syndrome or RLS.
Consumer Reports' Nancy Metcalf says these ad campaigns are just the latest example of how advertising can prompt people to ask their doctor for drugs they may not need.
"This is a condition that affects at most three percent of adults. The commercials elevate it to something that seems much bigger." say Metcalf.
Dr. Nicholas Rummo treats people with sleep disorders. He says since the commercials started running, more people have come to him complaining of restless legs. But not all of them need a prescription.
"Many people have leg movements and leg issues that they may be a bit aware of, but they're really sleeping pretty well and they don't really need a medication " says Rummo.
Interestingly, the commercials don't mention possible causes of restless legs, which include iron deficiency, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, or cold remedies, even pregnancy.
By law commercials are required to mention potential side effects and the list is extensive.
Rather than asking your doctor to prescribe a drug, Consumer Reports says try a number of things first. Cut back on alcohol, limit caffeine, ask your doctor if you need an iron supplement, and get regular exercise. Those could be key to a good night's sleep.
You may be surprised to learn that both Requip and Mirapex started out as drugs to treat Parkinson's disease. For people who do suffer from restless legs, the medications are modestly effective.