Side Effects Include Everything.

chemistry2There was a time in the United States when drugs couldn’t be directly advertised to consumers. I’m talking about legal drugs, not the other kind, the kind that movies like Reefer Madness warned you about. The distinction has always been a little fuzzy, but I’m talking about the drugs you have to get through your doctor rather than your dealer. Okay, the distinction is still had to make because even if you talk to your doctor he’s going to refer you to a pharmacist, and if the drugs you’re trying to buy aren’t the legal kind you’re probably still going to have to talk to a guy who’ll refer you to someone else. Either way you’re going to end up in a basement sitting in a beanbag chair listening to Blue Oyster Cult, or I’ve been going to the wrong pharmacist all these years.

What I’m trying to get to is that the American Medical Association has proposed a ban on direct advertising of drugs to consumers, which I think is a good idea. It would mean the end of those commercials that always end with “Side effects may include dizziness, fainting spells, constipation, dry mouth, dry heaves, dry rot…okay, I’m going to quit now partly because Steve Martin already has a hilarious piece about potential side effects which I’ve included at the end of this post, but the scary thing is even though his essay is supposed to be humor this is an area where the line between satire and reality is just entirely too thin.

It’s like trying to make fun of the cooking competition show Chopped. It’s just impossible to come up with anything so ridiculous it hasn’t been done. The other day I told my friend that the basket for the entree round contained gummi bears, asphalt, liquid helium, and barracuda nostrils. And without blinking he said, “Oh, yeah, I’ve seen that episode.”

13 Comments

  1. Pingback: Side Effects | A Simple, Village Undertaker

  2. Ray V.

    Chris, thanks for my morning chuckle.
    Edified and re-blogged at https://villageundertaker.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/side-effects-2/

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      A big thank you right back at ya. Knowing I made you chuckle makes my day.

      Reply
  3. Ann Koplow

    Your blog includes everything, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I include everything that interests me and there’s really no limit to what interests me, except perhaps economics. That may be the only thing you’ll never find her.

      Reply
  4. Kristine @MumRevised

    “We are assuming you’ve had chickenpox.” I don’t know why that was the part that made me snort laugh.
    I really think the ban is a good idea. I don’t like the idea of people walking into their doctor and demanding a certain drug because they saw it on TV.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yeah, I have the same problem. I also know some doctors can be a little loose with their prescription pads and think any problem can be solved by throwing pills at it. Oh yeah, it can also encourage self-diagnosing.
      Damn, I just remembered the Frasier episode where a caller says he’s experiencing all these psychological problems and Frasier says, “Either you are seriously mentally ill and you should be institutionalized immediately, or you are a first-year psychology student!”

      Reply
  5. Chuck Baudelaire

    My favorite warning is right there on the side of my Prozac bottle: “If you experience feelings of sadness or depression, stop taking this drug.” DUDE. Feelings of sadness and depression are why I take it in the first place. I have a feeling someone in the happy-pill factory just enjoys messing with me.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I seriously hope they’re just messing with you because the alternative is they’re warning you the drug may not work, and that’s bound to make you sad. Or annoyed. Basically anything but happy.

      Reply
  6. educationalmentorship

    A ban on advertising?! But those ads are the reason I refuse to take medication! How will I know if my doctor is being honest now? Guess I better stick to alcohol. Although I can just imagine a commercial that lists all the side effects: “May include embarrassing behaviour, dancing like a lunatic in public, dizziness, a sense of well-being that quickly turns into a crying jag and expressions of deep affection…”

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      And that’s why alcohol is, in the famous words of Homer Simpson, “the cause of and answer to all of life’s problems!” My other indulgence is caffeine. And sugar. And cheese. That’s a drug, isn’t it? In high school health class we were taught that a drug is anything that affects your body’s metabolism. Way to narrow it down. By that definition breathing is a drug.

      Reply
  7. Sandra

    Yeah those commercials scare me, more so after I realized how true those side effects really are. As for the show Chopped, I’ve never heard of it, but I better make sure my husband never does because our PVR is already clogged up with tv shows like “Wicked Tuna” and others I try to avoid, so I do not need a show that advertises recipes which include gummy bears (not to mention, the gummy bears would not make it beyond my mouth.)

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The side effects scare me even more when I realize how little testing most drugs have been through, and I remember the story of a guy I knew who volunteered for a drug test. He had an unusual side effect and called to report it. He was told, “No one else has mentioned that so we’re not going to mention it in our results.” Isn’t that comforting?
      And Chopped is fun if you like cooking competitions. Isn’t “Wicked Tuna” about the process of actually catching tuna? Although it might be nice to match both if tuna shows up as an ingredient. Then you’d have the beginning and end of the process.

      Reply

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