Saturday, June 30, 2007

A pill for every ill?

In honor of the series on happiness published in the Globe and Mail Focus section last weekend, I thought I’d report on the pharmacy world’s answer to the eternal question: can money buy happiness? Well, if money can buy erections where they may not otherwise exist, certainly it must be able to buy happiness. The problem is the multifaceted nature of happiness. There is not a strict receptor in the brain for happiness. However, for those of you struggling to find more happiness in your life, I present to you a new solution: Jovialis (sapiennate hydrochloride).

In order to make this more understandable for the average layperson, I shall explain this in a format similar to that used by the USPDI Advice for the Patient, a popular reference for patient-focussed drug information.

Sapiennate hydrochloride (sah-PEE-enn-ate)

Commonly used brand names: Jovialis

Available dosage forms: The only available dosage form for Jovialis is a continuous intravenous infusion. This is due to the unpredictable fluctuations of human emotions.

Uses for this medicine: Generally, this medication is prescribed for those lacking happiness in their life. Beyond happiness, the medication can be prescribed for those lacking purpose or those hopelessly addicted to their jobs or lacking work-life balance.

Before using this medicine: Tests will be run on patients prior to beginning the medication. This ensures that the common side effects of this medication will have limited impact. Patients must be in a stable relationship, have stable living arrangements, and be prepared to be on the medication long-term. An ability to operate on minimal sleep is also an asset. Even if approved for use, there is a minimum 9-month waiting period between approval for use and starting the first infusion pump.

Proper use of this medicine: The patient will be setup with a continuous intravenous infusion. The medication is infused 24 hours, seven days a week, 363 days a year, for 18-25 years. The only days on which the infusion pump is stopped is Mother’s/Father’s Day and the patient’s birthday. On these days the pump is cleaned and recharged by the patient’s spouse or caregiver. The pump runs on a biological feedback loop measuring the levels of mood hormones and adjusting the dose accordingly. Doses are usually much higher during the day, with the pump often powering down at night leading to significant declines in mood.

Side effects of this medicine: While the benefits of this medication are substantial, it also carries with it significant and sometimes burdensome side effects. Prior to beginning the medication a thorough discussion of risks and benefits should be undertaken between the patient and their significant other. Common side effects include fatigue, insomnia, lack of concentration, strained relationships, bursts of anger and frustration, loss of libido, decreased sexual activity, frequent night wakings, stained clothing, decreased threshold for disgust, and sudden interest in previously irritating television shows and music.

Benefits of this medicine: Benefits include happiness, fulfillment, personal satisfaction, emotional growth, work-life balance, frequent uncontrollable laughter, tears of joy, pride, improved social connections, an unexplainable, undefinable, warm fuzzy feeling, and meaning in life.

Cost: The cost is estimated at $200 000 for each infusion pump for the full 18-25 year dose. The number of infusion pumps each patient receives depends on the level of happiness they wish to achieve. However, there is a minimum 12-month waiting period between starting infusion pumps.

Now, you may be asking “Where do I get this wonder-drug?”. If you haven’t figured it out yet, you’ve either never been on it or are not currently in the 9-month waiting period.

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