the McPhee Blog

Archive for July, 2007

Restless Legs, Restless Wallet

I saw a commercial for a restless leg syndrome (RLS) medication on TV last week. You are almost guaranteed to see a pharmaceutical commercial no matter what show or what time you are watching. The thing that caught me off guard is that among the usual list of side effects was ”an increased tendency for gambling.”

This struck me as odd. Your legs are bothering you at night, so you pop a pill. The next thing you know you’ve just lost your house on a bet. It seems like a bad trade off to me. According the the Mayo Clinic “People who had never seriously gambled before suddenly were losing thousands of dollars at casinos — sometimes more than $100,000″ Other compulsive behavioral changes included hyper sexuality and compulsive overeating. [1]

The big pharmaceuticals change the lives of millions of Americans every year. A lot of great life extending drugs have come on the market. I’m just surprised by the trade off that is sometimes required to take these drugs. It is worth consideration that people may be over medicated. If you have high cholesterol by all means take Lipitor. If you have discolored toenails, I’d think twice if the side effects list things like blindness, exploding kidneys, and projectile vomiting. Even when the side effects are rare, they are often really strange.

[1] Mayo Clinic article on Parkinson drugs (also used to treat RLS) – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/parkinsons-disease/BN00043

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