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Volume 1, Issue 3
Autumn 2005:

Toward Responsibility and Accountability: Battling for Safer and More Effective Prescription Drugs

Stephanie Hu

Cell 2 Soul. 2005 Autumn; 1(3):a10

For over two decades, the pharmaceutical industry has been, by far, the most profitable in the United States, steadily rising to its unprecedented $200-billion-a-year status in recent years. Yet in the wake of blockbuster failures like Neurontin, Paxil, and Vioxx, the pharmaceutical industry has proven that its rise has induced less of an enhancement in product quality and safety than a worrisome trend toward the exact opposite.

A satirically-clever song written by the Austin Lounge Lizards for Prescription for Change parodies the situation. A laundry list of hilarious (and frightening) side effects accompanies the "life-enhancing miracle" drug Progenitorivox, which seems capable of treating everything from a headache to "some strange disease." (See lyrics and link to listening to the song below.)

The single line, "I've got insurance - at least for now I do…if I buy generic, it will cut my cost in two," reveals the fine line between being insured and being uninsured. In reality, even those in the former category are often underinsured. It is a given that, with their permission to enter a market dominated by Big Pharma, generic brands of the same drugs are much more affordable. Unfortunately, the millions that drug companies expend frequently achieve their desired goal of persuading consumers that brand-name drugs "beat diet and exercise," instilling into American minds the refrain of the Progenitorivox song, "But it's worth it for the drugs I need."

At the conclusion of the song, a witty disclaimer declares, in language dictated by the legions of lawyers employed by pharmaceutical giants, that "any resemblance to drugs living or dead is purely coincidental," with the implication that many newly-developed drugs are merely copy-cats of those already on the market. The line that "Progenitorivox may not be reproduced without the express written consent of Major League Baseball" is a swing at the numerous highly-lucrative business deals and endorsements that back pharmaceutical products as well as the generic production of drugs.

The disclaimer's amusing proclamations, "If you experience psychotic episodes, you're crazy" and "If death occurs, discontinue use of Progenitorivox immediately," illustrate the lack of accountability on the part of the very entities that manufacture chemicals with the power to alter human bodies and minds, and their refusal to take responsibility for first-line products, sold under marketing ploys and scientific cover-ups, that often prove less efficacious and more dangerous than they are touted to be.

Despite the light, catchy musical arrangement of the song, its message is grave and thought-provoking.

Just as the pharmaceutical industry wields political power, patients and consumers also possess leverage if they make their voices heard. In fact, two bills have recently been introduced in Congress that would require drug companies to improve safety monitoring of medicines on the market and to make the results of their drug studies publicly available.

Passage of these bills would provide the Food and Drug Administration with the power to enforce immediate action when problems surface rather than waiting for years to do so. It would also mean that TV drug advertisements will need to include full information about possible safety risks, preventing drug companies from concealing studies that reveal potential harmful side effects.

These bills, first introduced by members of Congress due to public pressure, now require even more public support to be made priorities. As prescription drugs become ever more crucial to an increasing proportion of the population, consumers must begin to protect their own interests and stand up for their own needs. After all, it is only sufficient public concern that will incite policy-makers not only to take notice, but to take action as well.

Song and Disclaimer Lyrics:

Lyrics and Music © 2005 by the Austin Lounge Lizards for Consumers Union, Prescription for Change.

To listen to the song, click here:

"The Drugs I Need"

You've got a headache
And I've got some strange disease
Don't worry about it
This pill will set your mind at ease

It's called Progenitorivox
It's made by SquabbMerlCo
It's a life enhancing miracle
But there are some things you should know

It may cause agitation
Excessive salivation
Male lactation
Rust colored urination
Bad vibrations
Mild electric shock sensations
But it's worth it
For the drugs I need

My disease may not be fatal
But I can ease my fears
By taking two twelve dollar pills
Each day for fifty years
They've spent billions to convince me
So now I realize
Beats diet and exercise!

I've got insurance
At least for now I do
And if I buy generic
It would cut my cost in two
But I want Progenitorivox!
'cause I saw it on TV
Those families look so functional
That paisley pill's for me

But it may cause
Debtor's prison and deportation
Dark depictions
Dire predictions
Life as seen in Dickens fiction
Empty pocket
Court dockets
May cause eyes to pop from sockets
But it's worth it
For the drugs I need
But it's worth it…
In Canada, they get this for a song!
But it's worth it
For the drugs I need

Disclaimer: The Drugs I Need

The opinions expressed in this song are not necessarily those of SquabbMerlCo or its subsidiaries. Progenitorivox is not available, anywhere. Offer void in Wisconsin. Any resemblance to actual drugs, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Any unauthorized use of your judgment in the application of Progenitorivox is strictly prohibited. Progenitorivox may not be reproduced without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball. Progenitorivox may cause drowsiness or restlessness in lab animals. Do not resume sexual activity while operating heavy machinery without consulting your physician. For erections lasting longer than four hours, insert your own joke here. If you experience psychotic episodes, you're crazy. If death occurs, discontinue use of Progenitorivox immediately. If symptoms persist, consult your physician. All sales final. Batteries not included.

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