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  • This wonder substance could make your life glorious! Or it could lead to hives, low blood pressure, or death.

The terror builds slowly. First our TV screen fills with a heart-warming look at American guys and gals in all their glory. Maybe they’re nuzzling on the patio. Or maybe they’re grilling steaks, hiking a trail, or coursing like tarpon through the spangled breakers of a remote Pacific bay. Whatever they’re up to, the message is clear: these are terrific people who lead terrific lives because they refuse to settle for less. They seize the day.

But what is that background murmur? That almost subliminal admission that all might not be well? It is difficult to catch every word and soon we’d rather hear none of them, for now we know of the silent doom that stalks the heroes of these joyous TV vignettes. Like the good folk of Amity, they have no idea of what they’re in for.


“Don’t take Belviq if you’re pregnant or planning to be. Tell your doctor if you are depressed, have thoughts of suicide, or take medicines for depression, migraines, or colds, as they may cause life-threatening side effects with Belviq. Some people taking medicines like Belviq have had heart-health problems. Don’t drive or use heavy machinery until you know how Belviq affects you. High doses may cause mental problems. Stop Belviq if you have prolonged erections or your breasts make milk or enlarge. Belviq may lower blood sugar or blood cell count. Common side effects include headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, constipation, back pain, and cough.”


“All prescription NSAIDs, like CELEBREX, ibuprofen, naproxen, and meloxicam, have the same cardiovascular warning. They all may increase the chance of heart attack or stroke, which can lead to death. This chance increases if you have heart disease or risk factors such as high blood pressure or when NSAIDs are taken for a long period. NSAIDs like celebrex increase the chance of serious inner allergic reactions or stomach and intestine problems such as bleeding and ulcers, which can occur without warning and may cause death. Patients also taking aspirin and the elderly are at increased risk for stomach bleeding and ulcers. Don’t take Celebrex if you have bleeding in the stomach or intestine or have an asthma attack, hives, other allergies to aspirin, NSAIDs, or sulfonamides. Get help right away if you have swelling of the face or throat or trouble breathing.”


“Do not take Cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain, because this may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. Do not drink alcohol in excess with Cialis. Side-effects may include headache, upset stomach, delayed backache or muscle ache. To avoid long-term injuries seek immediate medical help for an erection lasting more than four hours. If you have any sudden decrease or loss in hearing or vision or if you have any allergic reaction, such as rash, hives, swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat, or difficulty breathing or swallowing, stop taking Cialis and get medical help right away.”


“Serious side effects can happen, including pancreatitis, which may be severe and lead to death. Stop taking Januvia and call your doctor right away if you have severe pain in your stomach area, which may be pancreatitis. Tell your doctor right away and stop taking Januvia if you have an allergic reaction that causes swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, or affects your breathing, or causes rash or hives. Kidney problems sometimes requiring dialysis have been reported.”


“Symbicort contains formoterol. Medicines like formoterol increase the risk of death from asthma problems. Symbicort may increase your risk of lung infections, osteoporosis, and some eye problems. Tell your doctor if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure before taking it.”


“While taking Xarelto you may bruise more easily and it make take longer for bleeding to stop. Xarelto may increase your risk of bleeding if you take certain medicines. Xarelto can cause serious bleeding and in rare cases may be fatal. Get help right away if you develop unexpected bleeding, unusual bruising, or tingling. If you have had spinal anesthesia while on Xarelto watch for back pain or any nerve or muscle-related signs or symptoms. Do not take Xeralto if you have an artificial heart valve or abnormal bleeding. Tell your doctors before all planned medical or dental procedures. Before starting Xeralto, tell your doctor about any conditions such as kidney, liver, or bleeding problems.”


“Before you and your rheumatologist decide on a biologic, ask if Xeljanz is right for you. . . . Xeljanz can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. Sometimes serious infections and cancers have happened in patients taking Xeljanz. Don’t start Xeljanz if you have any infection unless OK with your doctor. Tears in the stomach or intestines, low blood cell counts, and high liver test results and cholesterol levels have happened.”

I take none of these drugs and don’t intend to, yet each time I see one of these commercials the side effects last for hours. They’re made by masters of horror.