Just Playing Games

When we’re very young we learn a game called “One of these things is not like the other.” Though it can be a sometimes tricky and misleading kind of game, (with objects like tomato, carrot, and apple up for evaluation) at the heart it is one of the most logical games we ever learn, and one which we carry on and apply to many aspects of our lives:

Social Circles: Suzy doesn’t wear the same clothes as us, we should stop hanging out with her (and tell everyone else that she gets her clothes at Wal-Mart).

*Politics: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are neither a. Old, b. status quo, nor c. white as highly processed bread.

*Candidates must meet all criteria to lull the nation into a feeling of “safety.”

Self-evaluation: I’m nice, polite, I have good hygiene, and I always call my mother on mother’s day, but I can’t find the man of my dreams ; something must be wrong with me!

The point is, when all our preconceived factors for a given ideal do not align warning bells go off in our heads. Cats don’t belong in the box next to birds, and three different plants grouped with a rock is borderline sacrilegious. If you went to kindergarten, you get the point. What worth this skill has had for evolution I can’t say. But my guess is that like most things in our lives, this game has survivalist roots in our ancestry. These survival roots I’m talking about are things like adrenaline rushes, survival-of-the-fittest-mate-choosing, both natural and irrational fears of that which can harm us…these things die hard. They are ingrained.

And that brings me to the point of this overanalyzed children’s game – Either we’re losing our attachment to it – or the pharmaceutical companies have found a way around childhood blasphemy.

Let’s play the game. Which of these side effects does not belong?:

Orencia (Rheumatoid Arthritis drug): Headache, upper respiratory tract infection, sore throat, nausea, allergic reactions, cancer (gently termed “Malignancies” on their website).

Symbicort (Asthma drug): Nose and throat irritation, headache, upper respiratory tract infection, sore throat, sinusitis, stomach discomfort, increased risk of asthma-related death.

Lexapro (Depression drug): Nausea, insomnia, ejaculation disorder, somnolence, increased sweating, fatigue, decreased libido, anorgasmia, suicidality.

Answer key: Cancer. Asthma-related death. Suicidality.

Now I understand the idea of benefits outweighing the risks, but that’s not really what I’m getting at. “Benefits outweighing the risks” is like eating a piece of chocolate even though it will probably go straight to your ass. What we have here is pretty absurd. In what world should a depression drug maybe cause you to be more depressed, an asthma drug increase the risk that asthma will kill you, and an arthritis drug give you cancer? This world, apparently.

Personally, I don’t believe these drugs should be on the market with the risks inherent in taking them, but then I don’t suffer from depression, nor asthma, nor RA. I imagine for people who suffer from severe forms of such conditions it might be worth it to take a drug, even if it could kill you…or worse, give you cancer.

But just because people are willing to take the best they can get (evenifitcouldreallymessthemup), doesn’t mean it’s okay for the Pharmaceuticals to shoot low and leave it at that. Are the big pharmaceutical names constantly trying to improve upon their drugs, and eliminate harmful side effects? I don’t think so, but it is a possibility. But from my experiences in watching these companies I truly don’t think it’s likely. Pharmaceutical companies have to be very careful about where they invest their money, and what projects they take. If they’re not careful they could tank. It happens often.

There are many, many many many issues I have with Pharmaceutical companies, and this is just one of them. So before I go off on a tangent, I’ll bring this to a close. Maybe having a ph.D. erases all memories of your childhood, or maybe people have become too trusting of what the players in this world are dealing to us; whatever the case, I believe if someone doesn’t call foul soon then the trespasses on common sense and the consumer’s trust are just going to become more severe.

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~ by Delgado on June 3, 2008.

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