Hump Day: Medication warnings often scarier than the illness itself

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017
Moncton Times & Transcript

Like most everyone, I’ve had to have prescriptions filled from time to time. Some of them are only once, while others are for a period of a few weeks. And some for longer than that. Thankfully, any side effects have been very minor or not even noticeable.

But sometimes, side effects can be horrible. One need only think of chemotherapy as an more extreme example of that. To be well again, sometimes we need to get even sicker first. Contradictory, I know. And there are many other medications with serious side effects, too.

I can’t imagine being very ill and being required to take medication that I know will cause havoc with my body. If it weren’t stressful enough already, you then have to deal with a whole new set of ‘booboos,’ so to speak.

I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, an American entertainment magazine. Yes, I’m one of those rare people who still has a subscription for a magazine that’s actually printed on real paper! This seems to be more common in American media than Canadian, but pharmaceutical companies will often advertise new medications for a variety of ailments, including diabetes, congestive heart failure, psoriasis, etc.

The ads must cost a fortune, but obviously the uptake more than pays for the marketing or they wouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

Often, an ad will be one page of creative and two full pages of warnings in type so small that you need a magnifying glass to read it. I’m sure the reasons for it are due to government regulations and public safety – and that’s a good thing – but two full pages of disclaimers about taking the product? I guess that’s what happens when one lives in a litigious society like the U.S. where lawsuits are as common as leaves on trees.

And if you listen to satellite radio, you’ll often hear commercials about new medications followed by a disclaimer that is sped up so fast that it is practically indecipherable to the human ear. It’s quite astonishing. Clearly, because the voice is sped up so fast, it’s simply there for legal purposes, not for the listener to actually understand. Why bother, then? Oh yeah, it’s all about avoiding that lawsuit, eh?

Let’s hope this pile of pills helps him despite the warnings they likely carry!

Like I said, I hope I’m never sick enough to have to resort to some weird new drug which I had to learn about on television or the radio, but if I do, I’ll have to skip the mandatory warnings. Way too scary!

‘CureYa will make your booboo go away, but it may cause instant death, complete hair loss for you and everyone within a 10-mile radius, your left leg to fall off if you cough more than twice in one day, and all your skin to explode into a powder-like cloud if you sneeze.’

‘Furthermore, CureYa offers no guarantee that your booboo will get better but hopes that you will be the one per cent of the human population who benefits from the medication. We also hope that you’re not part of the 99 per cent of the population who spontaneously combusts within the first minute after taking a CureYa pill, or someone who sleeps for 23 hours per day for six months after your first dose. The manufacturers of CureYa suggest stocking up on adult diapers while you’re filling your prescription.’

‘In rare cases, CureYa may cause patients to instantaneously grow chicken feet out of their foreheads and cause everyone within earshot to forget how to count to 10.”

I don’t know, but that all sounds like scary stuff to me. And I’m only half exaggerating. Have you ever listened closely to those scary warnings? I seriously don’t know what I’d do if I actually read all the side effects of some new medication I was forced to take.

But that’s just me – and it’s all hypothetical at this point. There are so many people out there suffering from terrible side effects from medication that is keeping them alive, pain-free or what have you. Sometimes, the cure is worse than the illness. If you’re like me, you’ve likely heard of people who refuse chemotherapy treatment for a second time because they can’t bear the side effects.

I consider myself very fortunate. I’ve never had to make one of those terrible decisions about a bad quality of life with medication or an even worse quality of life without medication. What a terrible quandary.

Medical science is evolving all the time. I pray that any medication I’ll need in the future isn’t toxic. Besides, I wouldn’t look good with chicken feet growing out of my forehead. But then again, I’d be alive.

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