Thursday, 18 September 2008

Dangerous drugs

For some years now I have been a user, regularly and in some cases daily, of a number of drugs. All of them are legal and not intended to give me any kind of fun but merely to alleviate some symptoms I have or to prevent various minor ailments from getting any worse. This is fine; taking them is a small inconvenience, they don't cost me anything, and all of them seem to work or at least to do me no harm.

But I had no idea how potentially dangerous they all are because I had never read the leaflets that came with them; three a day after meals seemed all I needed to know. The other day in an idle moment I glanced at one and, filled with alarm, immediately settled down to read the lot, taking particular note of the warnings about side effects.

It seems that some or all of these wonder products might well induce nastier things than those they had been so successful in treating: unless I was very lucky they could land me with diarrhoea, constipation, giddiness, intestinal bleeding, stomach cramps, various kinds of ulcers, aching limbs, migraines, insomnia, mood swings, palpitations, confusion, itching, drowsiness and fits.

There was no mention of a plague of boils, but otherwise this sounds just like the sort of thing that Jehovah used to visit upon tribes who had displeased him, or on anyone who happened to be around when he was in one of his wrathful moods. Happily, I haven't noticed any such effects while I have been on these drugs—well, a bit of confusion perhaps, and an occasional itch, though nothing that a good scratch doesn't cure—oh, and I get severe attacks of drowsiness after a good lunch. So I suppose I don't need to worry.

The instructions say that if these things do crop up you just have to stop taking the tablets and tell your GP, and if necessary that's what I'll do. After all, the print was very small so the dangers must be slight and the manufacturers know that no-one will read the leaflets; the whole point is that if some poor fellow does suddenly succumb to several of these unpleasant things after swallowing one of their nostrums they can just say: well, tough, we did warn you.

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