Wednesday 27 February 2008

Blockbuster snake-oil anti-depressant drugs

Does everything on the bus

I remember riding on those big yellow buses with black stripes in Lagos decades ago where a woman with snake-oil remedies would peddle her wares in front of the bus with humour and fallacy bordering on being cajoled.

Gbogbonse (Yoruba - Translating to does everything or cures all) was supposed to do everything from dealing with tooth decay to making you of extremely amorous interest to the opposite sex.

In what looks like a game show, certain passengers on the bus offered to assist in revealing the instant qualities of the medicines, between the comical and the downright bizarre people opened their wallets and parted with cash for those wraps of powdered substance.

It could all well have been a con job; you had no receipts or recourse to challenge the efficacy of your snake-oil drug if it did not do everything.

Since no one knew any better, it all really looked like a replay of a story I read in secondary school about con-men who sold charcoal as sugar for tea in a village and made loads of money.

Snake-oil anti-depressants

So when I heard that anti-depressants are very much like catch-all remedies with snake-oil potency and have very little effect, I really was not surprised.

The substance of the study was that the reviewers took all research material, especially the unpublished ones (which probably show that we are being sold shit) and analysed all the results with the conclusion that only those who are really very ill need be prescribed anti-depressants.

It would appear these block-buster snake-oil mental drugs which have made Big-Pharma exceedingly rich are very much like being sold charcoal as sugar for tea.

In fact, it appears the placebos also give a commensurate therapeutic effect leading some experts to question the full sincerity of Big-Pharma when it comes to conducting clinical and drug research on drugs that their viability and stock price values depend on.

I have no time, have a pill

I can very well understand why these drugs have gained prominence, the doctors have no time to analyse the issues and causes of depression which require extensive therapy, so stick a pill in the hands of anyone who cannot maintain a smile for more than a second.

Before we come to the conclusion that these drugs do not work at all, they might just be the required Gbogbonse the doctor ordered for some, leaving Big-Pharma laughing all the way to the bank anyhow.

It makes the whole matter ever so depressing – meanwhile, the deafening cacophony continues to sound like - kerching! kerching!!

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