Sunday, March 21, 2010

More Bad Medicine...

Anyone who's followed this blog for a while knows I like to point out the ridiculous pharmaceutical ads that run on television these days. Mostly, it's because I object to the utter bullshit that they try to sell; that the solution to every problem is to be found in a new pill. But there are other reasons as well.

The main reason is that modern pharmacology seems to deliver medications which are heavy on side-effects, and often low on results. They very often warn of side-effects which might be worse than the malady the drug was designed to treat. Many patients who take these drugs then complain to their doctors about the side-effects, and the doctor will then write 'em a new prescription for yet another drug that deals with those side-effects. Some patients, either because their physicians don't give a damn -- or because they're crazy -- will end up taking multiple medications for what are usually minor maladies that could have been treated without medicines, or with older and more-effective, not to mention cheaper, alternative treatments.

There's also the tendency for these medications and commercials to be targeted to a specific demographic, which nowadays is the Baby Boomer. All of these meds promise the Boomers two things: first, they promise to be a convenient and painless solution to a problem that used to just be chalked up to "Getting Older". Second, is the false hope that these drugs are some sort of Fountain of Youth. The commercials typically depict older men and women in absolutely superb physical condition, engaging in very active lifestyles. The message is that, unlike previous generations, when the Baby Boomers retire they will do so in a Brave New World where they will be forever young, free of physical ill or complaint, and possessed of the ability and energy to screw all day long (because to the Hippie Generation, Eternal Youth can only be expressed or experienced in terms of sexual desire and potency).

These people (Baby Boomers) will be retiring soon, and in future, they'll want Medicare (or whatever destruction of the healthcare system Nancy Pelosi manages to pass) to pay for these drugs for as long as they can take them. They'll have the numbers in terms of votes to see them kept in Wonder Drugs forever, if we let them.

I usually write about these drugs one at a time, as I see them advertised, because I find the whole notion ridiculous. But this last week, I began an experiment in which I counted the number of TV ads I saw in one afternoon, and then I wrote some commentary on what they were trying to sell. You can read that here. People got so many laughs out of that one, that I'm doing it again. So, here's another list. Please note that not only are prescription drugs on this list, but so are some other "patent medicines" and even a food item being sold as medicine that are being heavily advertised!

1. Activia - this is a yogurt which includes several "active cultures", which from what I gather is Scientific Crapspeak for "additional molds, bacteria and fungi". It's purpose is to "regulate" your digestive system, which makes a certain amount of perverted sense -- after the fascination with your genitalia (See Cialis, Viagra) wears off, you should give your bowels the lovin' they deserve. Baby Boomers are now deathly afraid of their stoppered innards -- which is apropos, since most are full of shit, and at some point they might explode. The spokeswoman for Activia is Jamie Lee Curtis -- certainly the first person I think of every time I muse upon the problem of "irregularity". Why Jamie Lee finds it necessary to talk to us about our bowel movements from her couch (or maybe that's her doctor's office?) is beyond me. Maybe she should get a better interior decorator, because just seeing that room made me constipated. Activia costs about $1.25 a pot here in my neighborhood, which had me wondering if the anticipation of a really a good dump two weeks from now was worth $17 -- since you have to eat one a day for two weeks to get the desired results) . Here's the commercial for it, with some creative sound dubbing (but it wasn't me, I promise).

2. Advair - intended to treat people with COPD or asthma. On average, it costs: $186.00. Now, what makes Advair perhaps one of the more perplexing drugs on my list is this; it's supposed to help people with compromised respiratory systems breathe easier, but two of the major side-effects are -- Upper respiratory infections and unspecified "breathing problems"! Other major side effects include: menstrual irregularities, diarrhea, frequent nosebleeds, irregular or rapid heartbeats, osteoporosis, depression, cataracts and glaucoma. It seems that if you take Advair, you might suddenly become a candidate for anti-depressants or any medicine that Sally Field sells. Note the super-surgically-enhanced Baby Boomer Babe (definite cheek job, lip job, boob job and perhaps multiple face-lifts), and notice the part where they say that Advair contains anti-inflammatories, and then goes on to say "It's is not known how anti-inflammatories work in COPD" - a condition this med is being specifically advertised as treating!

3. Avodart - A treatment for enlarged prostate glands, which may be an early indication of prostate cancers...or just old fuckin' age. It costs about $150.00 for a 90-day supply. Avodart is one of those meds that are supposed to relieve the symptoms of enlarged prostate (frequent pissing, start-and-stop urinary flow)... but it does oh-so-much more. Why, take enough Avodart and you'll trade the comparatively-minor annoyance of not being able to piss properly for the following; impotence (Good thing there's Viagra, huh?), abnormal ejaculation (what was that about Viagra, again?), breast enlargement (which would probably be great on the Missus, but who the hell wants Moobs?), unexplained skin rashes (and you won't believe where!), birth defects, wheezing and difficulty breathing and swallowing. Yeah, I already can't pee straight, gimme a drug that'll make me unable to breathe properly, too. That'll work. You also shouldn't give blood for six months after taking it because it's probably deadlier than AIDS for a while, and you may find your liver shrinking and trying to escape your body of it's own accord. Note the ruggedly-handsome 50-60 something who is the focal point of the commercial and is intended to represent the Idealized Baby Boomer.

4. Colon Flow - this is not a medicine, but rather a collection of minerals, herbs and perhaps whatever cleaning products were in the cabinets below the kitchen sink. Colon Flow claims to be a "colon cleanser" -- which gives me visions of the old TV Scrubbing Bubbles running rampant in your intestines. It also claims to "clean your blood" and "unstress your colon", whatever the hell that means. The premise behind Colon Flow is that every time you fail to pinch a loaf, you're retaining 4.5 pounds of dead weight and toxic waste. If you fail to achieve a decent BM on consecutive days, that becomes 9 pounds of deadly poison for every day you don't drop a spike, and so on. I assume you can treble these numbers if you're a democrat. In any case, from what I've read about it online, Colon Flow is really a super-duper laxative being advertised as a "Colon Cleanser", and it seems aimed specifically at people who wish to lose weight long as they don't mind abdominal distention, muscle cramps, lots of gas, bloating, dehydration, irritated bowels, bloody stool, and light-to-moderate anal leakage. That's way too much fun for only $30.95 a bottle, I swear!!! Unfortunately, I could not find a TV commercial for Colon Flow on YouTube.

5. Lipitor - Now, this one I actually have some experience with. Unfortunately, it wasn't a good one, and my doctor very quickly switched me to Zocor. Lipitor is prescribed in order to lower out-of-control cholesterol levels, and it works by preventing your body from processing certain fats and proteins that the liver turns into cholesterol. Sometimes, as in my case, it works too well, and then everything you eat goes right through you like a bloody Ferrari -- no sooner do you eat it then it's on it's way out. Not even enough time to taste it. Lipitor costs $120.00 for a 90-day supply. The side-effects include: unspecified infections of unspecified sorts, Third-world-style diarrhea, influenza, yellow skin and eyes -- which indicate moderate to severe liver dysfunction -- muscular degeneration, hepatitis, urinary problems, impotence and intestinal ulcers. Compared to some of these side-effects, you're probably better off having that heart attack or stroke. The spokesman is the inventor of the artificial heart, which I guess is supposed to lend some sort of gravitas, but as of this date, approximately 800 people have survived an artificial heat transplant operation, and the combined number of years of extended life? 180. Do the math, and tell me if that return on investment warrants a super-expensive operation not covered by most insurance carriers -- and certainly not by Medicare or any future ObamaCare. By the way, of the (few) hospitals in the United States who perform Artificial Heart Transplants, not a single one will post information on how much the procedure costs.

6. Lunesta - Another sleeping pill. You can get up to 7 hours of sleep out of a single dose, you know, and this saves you the trouble of having to watch Letterman, I guess. Like it's counterpart Ambien, those who take Lunesta are known to take frequent Midnight Voyages --- which include driving, operating heavy machinery, splitting atoms or perhaps engaging in ungodly and unnatural activities with farm animals, while asleep. While this might qualify you for a Czar-level appointment int he Obama Administration, it's not a good thing for the rest of us. Possible side effects: aggressiveness, distorted sense of taste, confusion, hallucinations (hopefully you don't have these while you're driving in your sleep in the middle of the night!), tongue and throat swelling. Tongue and Throat swelling -- you've just taken a sleeping pill and you can choke to death on your own tongue, or suffocate because your throat closes?. Oh, and while Lunesta claims to be non-narcotic -- they also warn that you just might get hooked on it. Lunesta costs about $273.00 for 50 pills. Here's an older commercial with a real hot babe in it.

7. Propecia - originally developed to fight heart disease, one of it's major side-effects was that it grew hair. Scads of it. I'm not certain if all that hair-growing was on top of the head, but it wasn't long after this discovery that Propecia was being prescribed to treat Advanced Male Pattern Baldness -- or as we people with lovely, naturally-full heads of thick and wavy hair like to call it Chrome Dome Syndrome. By the way, Propecia is for use by men only. Why? Because it's so toxic that the manufacturer advises that pregnant women avoid handling broken tablets. In fact -- from what I've read -- it's more like they recommend that pregnant women not even be in the SAME STATE as Propecia, because there's a chance the drug may cause a specific genital deformity in male offspring. I guess Daddy's hair is more important than Junior's gonads. When you start talking genital deformities we're definitely not cool. Other side effects you can look forward to: inability to get an erection (but hey, there's Viagra for that, right?), loss of interest in sex (assuming you can manage an erection) -- and assuming you can overcome these two hurdles and actually manage the deed -- you might be shooting blanks. We won't even mention what it'll do to your prostate (why is it that once you reach a certain age, everything eventually affects your prostate?) By the way, the best you can hope for is that your bald spots get smaller -- not filled in with thick, lush and luxuriant hair. Propecia costs about $160.00 for a 90-day supply, but hey, assuming you can camouflage those embarrassing bald spots without going sterile or inflicting horrible birth defects upon your male progeny, it's all worth it for the hot babes you'll be picking up with only slightly more hair, right?

Unfortunately, there was no recent commercial for Propecia available on YouTube.

8. Vagifem - Now, I have to admit -- I wasn't actually looking for this one and even talking about it makes me uncomfortable -- but it sort of found me. Honestly, I wasn't reading that women's magazine over that lady's shoulder on the bus! But it was there, and the man in me couldn't help but zero in on the words; Vaginal Dryness -- or as I like to refer to it now, Atrophic Vaginitis (it's amazing what you learn when you read!). Vagifem is a hormone-replacement drug that feeds estrogen into the systems of post-menopausal women, because, let's face it: it really sucks when the men have all this medicine to pump up their junk, and you can't join in the fun because your equipment is drier than a week-old piece of unbuttered toast in the Sahara. No wonder men chase the younger girls! This stuff costs: $115.00. The side effects, though, are whoppers, and include: possible uterine cancer, frequent yeast infections, bloody urine and bronchitis, all of which is certain to make you exceedingly attractive to men everywhere with your newly-irrigated snatch! There is no television ad to post, but here's the website.

Now, I'm not down on modern pharmacology; I've certainly benefited from it, and so do millions of others. But when you stop to consider what many of these drugs do, you have to start to wonder why anyone takes them and bears the expense -- particularly when most of these maladies are all about often-marginal improvements to the quality of life, rather than to the treatment of disease, and can do far more damage than the original malady.

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