For years now, pharmaceutical companies have been marketing direct to consumers with ads urging them to ask their doctor about a specific company’s pill. Sexual dysfunction, high cholesterol, sleepless nights — nothing, according to these ads, cannot be solved without the help of their products.  Big Pharma, with the help of Madison Avenue, has perfected the art of naming their pills.  These strange words sound vaguely scientific, often tweaking an existing word or combining words to create an interesting hybrid.  Some examples: Nexium, Exubera, Rozerem… Even student loan companies have gotten into the act — doesn’t “Astrive” sound like a pill?

Of course, there’s the small matter of the pages upon pages of warning and side effects associated with most of these medications.  I recently saw an ad for a restless leg syndrome medication (which was strange enough in the first place to me) and was puzzled by the warnings:

This product may cause you to fall asleep without any warning, even while doing normal daily activities such as driving. When taking this product hallucinations may occur and sometimes you may feel dizzy, sweaty or nauseated upon standing up. The most common side effects in clinical trials for RLS were nausea, headache, and tiredness. You should talk with your doctor if you experience these problems

I’m pretty sure you will already have spoken to several ER doctors and a couple of surgeons if taking this medication caused you to fall asleep on the road. And, if I’m a restless leg syndrome sufferer, I’m not real happy about the hallucinations: “My leg stopped shaking, but I can’t get rid of this dragon that keeps following me around.”  What was that about the cure being worse than the disease?  Reminds me of a Steve Martin piece from awhile back about side effects.