Here’s a little quiz for you.
Step 1: Read the following warning label for a prescription drug (I’ve substituted “[REDACTED]” for the name of the drug).
Some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions while using [REDACTED]. Some people had these symptoms when they began taking [REDACTED], and others developed them after several weeks of treatment or after stopping [REDACTED].
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 [REDACTED] and call your doctor right away.
Also tell your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems before taking [REDACTED], as these symptoms may worsen while taking [REDACTED].
Do not take [REDACTED] if you have had a serious allergic or skin reaction to [REDACTED]. Some people can have serious skin reactions while taking [REDACTED], 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 [REDACTED], 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 [REDACTED] and get medical attention right away.
Tell your doctor if you have a history of heart or blood vessel problems before starting [REDACTED], or if you have a history of these problems and have any new or worse symptoms during treatment with [REDACTED]. Get emergency medical help right away if you have any symptoms of a heart attack.
In clinical trials, the most common side effects of [REDACTED] include: Nausea (30%), Sleep problems (trouble sleeping, changes in dreaming), Constipation, Gas, 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 [REDACTED].
Step 2: Before reading further, answer this question: How seriously ill would you have to be before you would be willing to take this drug as a possible treatment? Terminally ill with cancer? A mild cold? Or somewhere in between?
Okay. The drug name is now revealed: It’s Chantix and it’s purpose is to help you stop smoking.
You read correctly. A drug whose sole benefit is to possibly get you to stop smoking can lead to suicide, a fatal skin reaction or a heart attack. Among other unpleasant side effects. Granted, smoking is a serious problem with its own life-threatening possibility. But I have to wonder about taking a drug that, at least in the short term, seems potentially worse than the problem it’s trying to fix.
It’s not just Chantix. Whenever I see a drug advertised on TV, there’s at least a 50:50 chance that the list of possible problems is enough to scare me from ever wanting to take the drug. Some of these drugs may be worth the risk. But you wouldn’t know it from the ridiculous television ads. And yet…these ads must work or I wouldn’t keep seeing them. I guess people attend more to the happy people on the screen than to what the announcer is saying may be about to happen to them.