Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yet More Bad Medicine...

I watch entirely too much television, but then again, I have far too much free time on my hands.

One of the things I find most entertaining about television these days are the wall-to-wall advertisements for prescription drugs and over-the-counter supplements that take up about one-quarter of the broadcasting day. What I find entertaining about them is that they usually follow a familiar format:

Scene: Two splendidly-preserved Baby Boomers are enjoying their ideal active retirement. They seem to be enjoying themselves more than people who don't snort cocaine regularly do in real life. Then, the Voice Over Lady chimes in, and begins to tell us all about the devastating malady (usually on the order of hangnail, vaginal/scrotal dryness, smelly feet, wrinkles or Old Lady Mothball Smell) that keeps one of those Boomers from achieving her (it's usually a Her) dream of conquering Everest, learning the cello, or fucking like a mink.

Only, the medical complaint Voiceover Lady is yacking about is usually not all that big a deal. In days past, people suffering from this minor malady simply "sucked it up", or chalked their discomfort up to "getting older". But Baby Boomers think they should be able to live forever, free of complaint, and at someone else's expense, and with their sexual potency intact (see: Medicare, ObamaCare).

Anyways, the commercial very quickly degenerates from Hippie Bob and Mary's slight physical impairment (usually only 10 seconds on the disease in question), and becomes a laundry list of warnings, listing of side effects, and godawful effects of the drug in question, that you begin to wonder just why anyone in his right fucking mind would take this dangerous-sounding pill. And then you laugh.

Unless you're me -- and then you do a little research to ensure that's what being sold as the fountain of youth and the cure to all that ails you, is all that. I've done a bunch of these, and you can read them by simply hitting the Bad Medicine tag at the bottom of the post.

This time, we're looking at a bullshit arthritis "cure", yet another statin drug, a couple of over-the-counter "remedies" for your stomach, and a drug that deals with pain you only imagine you feel. So, here you go:

1. Arthri-D - Glucosamine and "Key Plant Extracts" (including frankincense -- if it was good enough for Jesus...) many herbal fillers, and Vitamin D3. It claims to "enhance your diet...and your life!", and is sold as the answer to your creaking, arthritic joints. It's a nutritional supplement of dubious value, and has not been tested in regards to ANY malady, whatsoever.

It's selling point seems to be that if you take this, your arthritis will be magically cured, although they take great pains not to guarantee that claim, in extremely small print, on the website. Oh, and the other selling point is that Arthri-D3 is made right here in the good 'ol USA in a "superior manufacturing facility that adheres to the highest quality standards".

Okay, so I guess that makes it the highest-quality crap you can waste your money on. Don't take it if you're allergic to seafood, as you will probably explode like a Palestinian on a public bus.Otherwise, the company that makes Arthri-D3 is being investigated by the FTC, and has a chief executive who has had to -- allegedly -- change his name at least once. You can't even find out how much this stuff costs unless you call the 24-hour hotline to order it. You can see the "infomercial" (running on heavy rotation on Fox Business channel on weekends) at the Arthri-D website.

2. Crestor - an oldie-but-goodie, Crestor is once again being heavily flogged on television, which kinda sucks, except for the Patrick Stewart voiceover.

This is another statin drug which is supposed to help you regulate your cholesterol levels. I've taken statin drugs in the past, and I'm convinced that they work by simply giving you the kind of explosive diarrhea one normally associates with Mexico, ensuring that nothing you eat has time to actually stick around long enough to put any extra cholesterol into your system. After that, all statins do something strange to your liver (which produces 70% of all your cholesterol all by itself), that requires monthly blood tests and physician visits, which get annoying and frequent enough for you to believe that having the heart attack you're trying to avoid just might be a better and cheaper option, after all.

If you take Crestor you can look forward to the following side-effects besides the crippling, dehydrating diarrhea that will ruin your life by making it impossible for you to be any more than a quick sprint from a toilet at any time: persistent headaches, abdominal pain, weakness, persistent nausea, elevated blood sugar levels (so that you can trade high cholesterol for diabetes!), myalgia (muscle pains), asthenia, myopathy, rhabdomyalisys (breakdown of skeletal muscle), myglobinaria (too much myoglobin in your kidneys, leading to renal failure), and a host of unspecified skeletal/muscle-related issues.

See the website for details. Crestor will set you back about $150.00 for a month's supply of 20mg pills. If you take 40mg dosages, you can expect to pay nearly $200.00, and have all of the side-effects listed above at about twice-the-intensity.

3. Digestive Advantage - this is an over-the-counter product being sold as a treatment option for those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), although it bills itself as a "Medical Food Product" on it's website, whatever that means.

Actually, all it is is something like Milk of Magnesia with some "All Natural" additives -- and a higher price. The gist behind this "Medical Food" is that most treatments for IBS don't work because the active ingredients never make it into your intestines -- where all the good stuff happens. Those other medications are all used up or mostly wasted after they enter your stomach, destroyed by contact with stomach acids, and so that you get no relief from your painful, bloody pooping and uber-menstrual-like cramps. Digestive Advantage basically puts Milk of Magnesia into a super, bullet-proof capsule that won't break down as quickly in your stomach acids, and so it is hoped, allow a little more medicine to be delivered to your lower intestine, where all that nasty IBS shit (no pun intended) happens.

The two biggest risk factors for IBS are diet and emotional state, although there are some for whom this is not always the case. Instead of taking medicines and "Medical Food Products" most people who suffer from IBS would probably benefit more from a change in diet and learning how to chill out. But then you wouldn't have the opportunity to pay for this Crap that Helps You Crap, would you?

As a society, we're now more focused on our bowels than we ever have been before, which I guess is better than our previous pre-occupation with our genitals, and we're now seeing all sorts of medications, "Medical Food Products" and contrivances hitting the market which are ensuring that your digestive system and poop chute run like the finest Swiss Watch. The Baby-Boomer generation that was once obsessed with the Erection is now Obsessed with it's Feces, just as Freud predicted, and the American pharmaceutical industry is working feverishly to meet the demand!

Who says Capitalism is dead?

The only major side effect seems to be a dramatic increase in flatulence, which might get you tagged as a threat to Mother Gaia by any committed Tree Hugger, and an occasional oily spotting in your undies. These might cause you severe embarrassment in public settings, but it's better than bloody, painful turds and torn, irritated hemorrhoids, isn't it?

You'll be happy to know that the makers of Digestive Advantage also make Gas, Daily Constipation and Lactose "Defense" formulas. Oh, joy! An entire product line devoted to your tushy!

4. Gas-X Protection- a lovely little over-the-counter supplement that will help defend you against the embarrassing and uncomfortable effects of excessive stomach gas, "with unbeatable speed". The selling point here is the terrible embarrassment that people with severe gas will often suffer; as the website advertisement is simply loaded with overwrought references to the public approbation, social isolation, and mental consequences of excessive flatulence. According to the website, your flatulence can "consume your mind, distracting you from what you are doing -- making you feel helpless". Frankly, I've never heard of anyone being so consumed by the fear of farting that they develop social anxiety disorders or ADD, so I'm a bit leary of that claim.

In fact, if you're a perpetual adolescent -- like me -- you find flatulence incredibly funny, and you love to share it. There's no joke yet devised by man that provides as much laughter as a good butt whistle, so far as I'm concerned. Why, the flatus is perhaps mankind's greatest invention: you can share it with your friends for free, it always makes someone in the room laugh, and even the deaf can join in the fun! Be that as it may, however, there are some people, for whom this is not true.


Thankfully, for all of us Overgrown Children in love with the Fart, all that fun-killing, gas-stopping tomfoolery comes at a cost: you can expect massive cramps whenever you use Gas-X Prevention. Something on the order of birth-contraction-type pain, I'm led to understand. If that wasn't enough of a reason to avoid this stuff, you can also anticipate all the time you'll have to sit around and think of newer and more descriptive adjectives to put in front of the word "diarrhea" -- which is what you'll get with every dose. That's if you can manage to avoid the following: rash, hives, itching, difficult breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face or tongue. All this gas-free happiness for about $40 a box.

It's almost better to just let one rip in the elevator every once in while and just deal with the embarrassment.

5. Lyrica - This is a drug prescribed for people with varying sorts of nerve pain, usually related to diabetes and shingles, but just as often for pain resulting from fybromyalgia, which I gather is a fancy term for "pain which your doctor cannot explain by scientific means". I've known two people with fybromyalgia, both resulting from injuries suffered during automobile accidents, and I'm convinced that their "pain" is no pain at all, but rather a dependence on the opiates they were given to relieve the real discomfort of their long-ago-healed injuries. They feel phantom pains which justifies the continued prescriptions for painkillers. One woman I know required methadone treatments to wean her off the vast array of painkillers she was given. Lyrica is also given to epileptics to prevent seizures.

Side effects of Lyrica include: swelling of the face, lips, gums, mouth, throat, neck and tongue, trouble breathing or swallowing, rashes, hives and blisters of an unspecified sort. You might also experience dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, muscle pain (hey, I thought this was supposed to make pain disappear?), blurry vision, swelling of the hands and feet, and what the website describes as "feeling high", and of course, quite persistent diarrhea. Everything about modern medicine, it seems, now causes diarrhea. People who take Lyrica to control epileptic seizures can also look forward to mood swings, an increase in suicidal thoughts, and amazingly for a medicine that is thought to control them, an increased frequency of seizures(so why take it all, if you're an epileptic?).

Lyrica will set you back about $200.00 for a month's supply. You could almost afford the drug treatment program to wean you off the over-prescribed opiates you were given for your whiplash for that kind of money.

I'm currently investigating another 10 or 11 of these drugs, over-the-counter medicines and other dopey shit that are being advertised heavily these days. I'll be posting about them real soon, promise!

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