Thursday, April 05, 2007

Zelnorm No More

On March 28, the FDA requested that Novartis voluntarily discontinue sales of its drug Zelnorm. On March 30, Novartis said they would comply.

Zelnorm treats constipation. Most studies were done on women. (To the right is one of Zelnorm's ads. Does that look like a woman?)

I notice that Novartis did not take this initiative themselves. I wonder if they would have. This is how federal regulatory agencies like the FDA earn their pay, and why I'm not put off by keeping them in business through my taxes.1

Were the FDA not to intervene with big drug companies on our behalf, we'd be left to do it ourselves:

"[Ring! Ring!] Novartis? Great. How you all doing? Wonderful. Listen, guys, I'd like you to stop selling Zelnorm. Yes, I realize it's one of your top-selling drugs. $560 million in sales last year? Get out! Well, see, I was reading the paper this morning and I saw a study ... hey, a study you guys made in house too, check that out. (Was it leaked?) Anyway, you found an increase in heart attack, stroke, and chest pain in women using it for constipation. That's some pretty serious stuff, no? Looks to me like the risks outweigh the benefits here, know what I'm saying? So if you could stop with the belly commercials and the drug rep visits, and take back all the stuff on pharmacy shelves, that would be great. Oh, and once this news gets out I'm sure lots of women will want their money back. That $200 tab every 60 days is a real wallet drainer, know what I mean? Zelnorm, the drug that drains you ... ha ha. Ok, sorry. But it might not be a bad idea to set up a little give-back fund. Great idea, huh? Hey, no problem. When you get it all organized, you can make a public statement, like this:

Novartis Suspends US Marketing and Sales of Zelnorm in Response to Request from FDA a Concerned Citizen

Nice speaking with you. Good luck with that new diabetes drug!"

If you're coping with constipation or other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, keep in mind the benefit of:

The Four Fs:
  • Fitness
  • Fiber
  • Fluid
  • Flora
(I used to call it The Three Fs until information about the benefits of certain intestinal flora or microorganisms, also known as probiotics, came to light.)
1 On the other hand, my tax dollars have been paying for some real lemons in other areas of government. Wouldn't it be nice to have a money back guarantee? An April 15th Give Back Day?

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