Saturday, May 5, 2012

Be Careful Out There

I was listening to TV the other day.  Don’t really watch much TV.  Perhaps I will as I get older but for now it’s mostly news shows and Comedy Central.  I was washing the dishes when I heard this ad for a medication to help you stop smoking.  I was vaguely interested.  Smoking is bad.  Stopping is hard.  I understand how addictive nicotine is.  The MOST addictive substance, right?  More addictive than heroine, cocaine, morphine.  I heard that it is even more addictive than caffeine.  No laughing matter. 

Everyone in my family smoked at some time when I was a kid.  My parents and their friends smoked or were in the middle of quitting for a long time.  I remember plainly as a kid, my mom sending me to the drugstore with 35 or 40 cents.  “Honey, go buy me some Winston Lights.  The ones in the box, not the pack.  There is an extra nickel there so you can buy a candy bar.” 

Sure.  Good deal.  It was only a couple blocks away.  And a nickel candy bar back in the day was huge. 

The guy behind the counter never questioned that I was buying it for my mom.  He’d slip it into a little paper sack along with my big old Butterfinger and give me some change back.  Yessir.  Those were the days.

So I was listening with mild interest to this commercial for CHANTIX.  The actual advertisement for the product was brief.  You know, it is a prescription medicine that helps people 18 and older to stop smoking.  [Tim: Because no one under 18 wants to quit more than likely.  Because when you’re under 18 and you start to smoke you think you’re going to live forever.  When you are under 18 you defy death by starting to smoke in the first place.  You know it causes cancer.  But that doesn’t matter.  Because when you are under 18, and you might get cancer when you are in your 60’s or 70’s… that’s a lifetime away.  60’s and 70’s are only theoretical when you are under 18.  60’s and 70’s are old people.  And when you are that young, you are never gonna get that old.  But I digress…]

So you can take CHANTIX to help you stop, but of course the ad goes on to say that you would also benefit from a “quit-smoking program, and/or counseling during your quit attempt.”  I’m thinking the quit-smoking program and/or the counseling alone just might do the trick without CHANTIX.

That was about the gist of the ad part.  I thought that it might be a little difficult to get it since it is a prescription drug.  You’d have to lean on your doctor a bit probably to get him/her to prescribe it.  But the pharmaceutical companies must count on that a great deal, otherwise, why would they advertise it on primetime?  Those ads must be expensive.  You’d have to sell an awful lot of CHANTIX to pay for just one ad.  Many smokers-with-the-intentions-of-quitting would have to pester their doctors a lot to pay for that tiny little ad. 

And then came the precautions.  I thought about jotting them down but the guy with the voice spoke so quickly that there was absolutely no way.  Luckily I googled it and there they were.  I’ll reprint them here but as you read imagine a guy with a silky smooth voice, a guy who get paid for being this voice, reading this text all ultra fast.

Some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions while using CHANTIX to help them quit smoking. Some people had these symptoms when they began taking CHANTIX, and others developed them after several weeks of treatment or after stopping CHANTIX. If you, your family, or caregiver notice agitation, hostility, depression, or changes in behavior, thinking, or mood that are not typical for you, or you develop suicidal thoughts or actions, anxiety, panic, aggression, anger, mania, abnormal sensations, hallucinations, paranoia, or confusion, stop taking CHANTIX and call your doctor right away. Also tell your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems before taking CHANTIX, as these symptoms may worsen while taking CHANTIX.
Whoa!  Some people have had suicidal thoughts and actions while taking this?  And I thought the effects of smoking were bad.   I have been around people quitting cigs before.  It’s bad.  I get it.  But… anxiety, panic, aggression, anger, mania, abnormal sensations, hallucinations, paranoia, or confusion?  Who would want to go through that?!  I mean it’s only a possibility, right?  But there are more precautions.  FAR more…
Do not take CHANTIX if you have had a serious allergic or skin reaction to CHANTIX. Some people can have serious skin reactions while taking CHANTIX, some of which can become life threatening. These can include rash, swelling, redness, and peeling of the skin. Some people can have allergic reactions to CHANTIX, some of which can be life threatening and include: swelling of the face, mouth, and throat that can cause trouble breathing. If you have these symptoms or have a rash with peeling skin or blisters in your mouth, stop taking CHANTIX and get medical attention right away.
That is a LOT of possible symptoms!  Look at that list!  Serious stuff too.  I mean I could deal with some redness.  But swelling of the face, mouth and throat?  Peeling skin or blisters in your mouth?  That seems like a nasty list of side-effects (possible side-effects).  You’d have to be some kind of desperate to chance all of that.  But there is so much more…
Tell your doctor if you have a history of heart or blood vessel problems before starting CHANTIX, or if you have a history of these problems and have any new or worse symptoms during treatment with CHANTIX. Get emergency medical help right away if you have any symptoms of a heart attack.
The most common side effects of CHANTIX include nausea (30%), sleep problems, constipation, gas and/or vomiting. If you have side effects that bother you or don't go away, tell your doctor. You may have trouble sleeping, vivid, unusual or strange dreams while taking CHANTIX. Use caution driving or operating machinery until you know how CHANTIX may affect you.
Who likes nausea?  People get nauseas when they quit on their own.  Can you imagine the nausea if you added another layer on top of the normal quit-smoking nausea?  And 30% of the folks who try this get sick to their stomachs.  That’s a lot.  Now vivid or unusual dreams might not be that bad.  I’m surprised with all of the other DANGERS they even threw that it.  I don’t remember my dreams all that often.  That might actually be a benefit.
Using caution while operating machinery or driving?  Heck, most people over 18 DO DRIVE, right?  What kind of caution are they talking about?  Just being aware that this medicine might mess you up a little bit, so exercise a bit more caution?  Or designated driver level of caution?
CHANTIX should not be taken with other quit-smoking products. You may need a lower dose of CHANTIX if you have kidney problems or get dialysis.
Before starting CHANTIX, tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or if you take insulin, asthma medicines, or blood thinners. Medicines like these may work differently when you quit smoking.

One would have to really want to quit smoking and have next to no self-control to voluntarily take this drug.  The next time this ad comes on, I’m going to watch it, because the soundtrack alone was really spooky.  Probably the visuals are really great to offset the frightening list of possible side effects.  You know, paddling a canoe down a pristine river, holding hands with a loved one in the moonlight, accidentally bumping  into your honey while cooking.  Oh no.  That’s the little blue pill…m The most common side effects of VIAGRA are headache, facial flushing, and upset stomach. Less commonly, bluish vision, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light may briefly occur….


Chris Hass said...

You'll really enjoy this parody Saturday Night Live did on Chantrix. They obviously found the ad as terrible as you did.

Ruth Anne O'Keefe said...

A drug for every ailment, real or imagined. That's what we get for keeping profit in pharmaceuticals!