Saturday, December 02, 2006

Three More Pills

Do you have allergies? Have you ever tried to find an antihistamine that works well but doesn't make you drowsy? For me, the allergy medicine of choice for roughly two decades has been Actifed -- not only has it worked well for seasonal allergies, but it's been my preferred cold medicine as well. And now I'm down to my last three pills of it. I've been hoarding the last of my stash, reluctant to use them for situations I wouldn't have hesitated to in the past, saving them for REALLY BAD TIMES.

I'm sure many of you are asking yourself at this point, why doesn't he stop complaining about it on his blog and go to the pharmacy and buy more Actifed? You might even be asking this question using language not suitable for print in a family-friendly blog (though that's not my concern). Honestly, there is an explanation -- Actifed contains pseudoephedrine, and apparently pseudoephedrine can be used to make crystal meth. So the powers that be no longer allow medicines with pseudoephedrine to be readily available on drugstore shelves (though Bunsen Burner sales continue to be unregulated), and the makers of Actifed decided that it would be foolish to keep Actifed behind the counter, given that its popularity has declined over the years as Claritin and other medicines have become available. Thus, they reformulated Actifed so that it no longer contains pseudoephedrine, which means Actifed, or a new medicine with the same name, remains on the shelves, but that I have no idea how well it'll work for me.

This isn't a case like when Mars reformulated 3 Musketeers, and suddenly my favorite candy bar no longer tasted the same. I mean, that was bad, but there were reasonable alternatives that allowed me to get my chocolate fix. And other than a temporary upsurge in caloric intake, there wasn't a downside to trying lots more chocolate bars in order to find the best among acceptable ones (I settled on Snickers). No, this is far more serious -- chocolate may make you feel better when your head is blocked up, but no matter how much you eat you're still more congested than downtown DC during rush hour.

So I'm pretty annoyed, not only with the people who make crystal meth, but also with the efforts to limit access to pseudoephedrine, and with Pfizer (the makers of Actifed). As to the latter, the thing that really bugs me is how they've chosen to spin the reformulation -- the new package proudly asserts, "Does Not Contain Pseudoephedrine," as though the many allergy sufferers using Actifed will be overjoyed to hear that the product that they've relied on is no longer the same. As though there have been millions of people who have been reluctant to use Actifed because it contained pseudoephedrine, and who will now flock to the new Actifed.

So if any of you see me in the next few weeks and I'm completely out of it and perhaps only semi-functional (even more so than usual), you're on notice that it may be for a reason other than that I'm a new parent. You've been warned.