Now, I don’t know how often housewives really took valium in the ’50s and ’60s, but that is of little consequence now, because it seems that we are about to see the return of that fad. Serves me right for watching the news, I suppose.
Here’s what happened: After I finished watching House, I was lounging around, and I saw an advertisement for the upcoming news broadcast (who the hell advertises news?) Something caught my eye: a seeming endorsement by the pharmaceutical community of the use of antidepressants in people not suffering from clinical depression. This brings to mind Pfizer’s claim that they don’t encourage Viagra’s recreational use: yet another ploy for Big Pharma to line their bursting pockets. Actually, they’re just lining the insides of their wads of cash, now.
Here’s how it goes: in their monetary brilliance, Big Pharma has produced two drugs, exactly identical, but with different labeling. One of them is indicated for clinical depression. The “other” one is indicated for the treatment of nicotine addiction. Insurance companies will usually pay for the one that treats depression, but not the other one (I’ll leave the justification of that to the reader; it seems like Big Insurance would want to help as many nicotine-addicted people quit as possible…wait a minute…they make money off of their…) The result? Paging Dr. Con: doctors are now prescribing the depression-indicated drug, listing the patient as being treated for depression, and sending them on their way. Anybody else see a problem here?
Don’t even get me started on Big Pharma’s ethics issues; I’m sure the one that insurance will pay for is the more expensive one (ka-ching!). Moving on to the human side of things: where does this end? Are we going to start prescribing Ritalin and Adderal for college kids who want to pull an all-nighter (actually, they might already do that; several of my classmates have come in wired on anti-ADD medications). What about viagra for bored teenagers (oops…already did that, too). Okay…maybe heart medications to improve athletes’ performance (hey, I think they already do that, too). Well…I don’t really have anything left…so I suppose the moral of this story is: swallow a fistful of pills. Everybody else is doing it.