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Monday, August 17, 2009

Prescribing Information

If you ever want to scare the happy shit out of yourself, read the "Prescribing Information" for any prescription drug you happen to be taking.

My mother-in-law was visiting this weekend, so, consequently, I spent an inordinate amount of time locked in the bathroom. With scant reading material from which to choose, I decided to open up a trial sample of Xopenex, my rescue inhaler, and read the prescribing information. I'll never feel the need to watch a horror film in the dark ever again.

First off, there's the stuff I didn't understand, which is good, because you can't be scared of what you don't understand. For example, the following:

"The active component of Xopenex HFA (levalbuterol tartrate) Inhalation Aerosol is levalbuterol tartrate, the (R)-enantiomer of albuterol. Levalbuterol tartrate is a relatively selective beta2-adrenrgic receptor agonist. Levalbuterol tartrate has the chemical name (R)-(x1-[[(1,1 -dimethylethyl)amino]methyl]-4-hydroxy-1,3-benzenedimethanol L-tartrate(2:1 salt)."

Oh. Okay.

My 10th grade chemistry teacher drove to work in a rusted-out Chevrolet Chevette, wore broken glasses held together with scotch-tape and opined regularly on the joys of "butt-bumping," so, needless to say the aforementioned jargon holds no meaning for me whatsoever.

If you turn the paper over, you'll read about the joys of drug interactions, complications, side effects, the ability of the drug to be excreted in breast milk and, now my personal favorite: "Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, and Imprairment of Fertility." Ready?

"In a 2-year study in Sprague-Dawley rats, racemic albuterol sulfate caused a significant dose-related increase in the incidence of benign leiomyomas of the mesovarium at, and above, dietary doses of 2mg/kg/day (approximately 30 times the maximum recommended daily inhalation dose of levalbuterol tartrate for adults on a mg/m2 basis and approximately 15 times the maximum recommended daily inhalation dose of levalbuterol tartrate for children on a mg/m2 basis)."

There are also discussions of this product being used on "Golden hamsters, mice, pregnant rats, rabbits and dogs." 5 out of 111 of the mice born to mothers who used my inhaler were born with cleft palate. They will be teased in school.

I also enjoy the side-effects portion of the informational packet, because now I think I have all of them, even though I use this inhaler maybe eight times a year:

"cyst, flu syndrome, viral infection, constipation, gastroenteritis, myalgia, hypertension, epistaxsis, lung disorder, acne, herpes simplex, conjunctivitis, ear pain, dysmenorrhea, hematuria, and vaginal monilasis."

Yes, I even think I have that.

Funnily enough, they also include "asthma" as a possible side-effect stemming from the use of this inhaler.

People usually think about "TMI" as your co-worker telling you about the time she found poop schmear on her thong bikini in Key West or the time you jerked off your high school boyfriend nine times in one weekend and his cock bled all over your parent's sheets, but TMI comes in all shapes and sizes, and, sometimes, it comes in a levalbuterol tartrate suspension.

I like to stay informed, and, as a former healthcare professional, I enjoy conversing with medical professionals on a relatively intelligent level, but, really, there's no reason for anybody to read their prescribing information, unless they're particularly starved for a way to pass the time in the bathroom. Just know that, after you read it, you may very well wish you hadn't.

I just hope that, the next time I'm in the midst of an asthma attack, I don't start thinking about chemical compounds or Smoot-Hawley rats with fucked up mouths.


  1. Dude, I read the prescribing information like it's my job.

    Oh wait, it is.

    Well, needless to say, adverse events are not pretty, should they happen to you.

    You just have to hope that you'll beat the odds, which are usually pretty good.

  2. don't discredit your hs chem teacher too much-that shit/jargon is college-level organic chemistry, at least. and no body needs that shit unless they are going to med school


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