When side effects outweigh symptoms

I recently saw an online ad with calmly cheerful images and a soothing narrator saying, “If you’re taking an antidepressant and still feel depressed, one option your doctor may consider is adding Abilify. Abilify treats depression in adults when added to an antidepressant. …” If my current drug isn’t getting me high enough to function, taking this stuff with my drug will take me where I want to go. Abilify is the shyte.

The reassuring man’s voice warned me candidly, “Abilify is not for everyone. Call your doctor if your depression worsens or you have unusual changes in behavior or thoughts of suicide—antidepressants can increase these in children, teens and young adults.” No worries.

“Elderly dementia patients taking Abilify have an increased risk of death or stroke. Call your doctor if you have high fever, stiff muscles and confusion to address a possible life-threatening condition, or if you have uncontrollable muscle movements, as these can become permanent. High blood sugar has been reported with Abilify and medicines like it. In some cases extreme high blood sugar can lead to coma or death. Other risks include decreases in white blood cells, which can be serious; dizziness upon standing; seizures; trouble swallowing; and impaired judgment or motor skills.”

Bristol Myers Squibb Inc., the manufacturer, wants me to think that being depressed is awful enough to risk all that, plus the constipation, weakness and facial swelling the voice didn’t mention. Anything but sadness.

Then a sweetly tranquil woman came onscreen and said, “Adding Abilify’s made a difference for me.” Meanwhile, text at the bottom of the frame revealed that the woman was an actress. The happy lady claiming that Abilify offered anything but side effects—although impaired judgment sounds like the next best thing to no judgment at all—was a professional liar.

Bristol Myers Squibb Inc. bought a presentation that devotes most of its running time to the side effects of a drug that has alleviated symptoms of “some patients.” Does it want this video to persuade the depressives who might see it to ask their doctors for Abilify? They expect people who are in psychic agony and on drugs to see this video and remember the name “Abilify” until the next time they’re scheduled to see their doctor; or to write down the name and actually keep up with the piece of paper until their next appointment and remember to take it with them and then actually ask about it. I don’t believe it.

Ordinary people constructed that bizarre sales pitch with the company’s money, not their own, because they made money doing it, and the money spent on production is deductible from the money it owes the federal government anyway, so it’s already working out. Smooth.