The pharmaceutical companies are experts at identifying multiple uses for any given medication, also known as off-label prescriptions. The more applications that a pharmaceutical drug has, the greater the return on the corporation’s investment, and the happier the shareholders. A recently headlined example may revolve around acetaminophen (Tylenol) and how it could be used to dull emotions.
Therefore, whenever a headline reads like the following – Acetaminophen Blunts Both Positive And Negative Emotions – it is very easy to understand why the many makers of acetaminophen-containing products may have had a hand in the study.
Millions have taken over-the-counter meds containing acetaminophen for many decades, so they know full well the relief it has offered for their aches and pains. Now the pharmaceutical companies are subliminally telling the consumer that the very same drug will decrease the severity of negative emotions. They also indicate that studies have shown that positive emotions are likewise “blunted.”
In this way, Big Pharma has found yet another way to extend the revenue streams of what has already been an extraordinarily popular pain reliever. The following excerpt from the preceding article shows just how many people use acetaminophen, as well as the subtle advertising pitch for an alternative use.
“Approximately 52 million Americans — nearly one-quarter of adults — use a med that contains acetaminophen each week. While this drug has been an approved form of medication for over 70 years in the United States and is found in over 600 medicines, this is the first news of this mind-based side effect, which has been published in the journal Psychological Science.”
This tactic of floating a variety of applications for pharmaceutical medications has gone on since day one by corporate marketing departments. The pharmaceutical company will often finance a study — directly or indirectly — which already has an explicit desired outcome on their agenda.
The research studies and/or scientific investigations are then conducted in such a manner so as to guarantee the expected outcome. The further away the Big Pharma corporation can distance itself from the research institution, the more likely that it will claim that an independent study was performed.
However, this is almost never the case. There exists a vast network of research institutions and universities which claim to be independent and disinterested but which are actually joined at the hip with the drug manufacturers. The hidden financial relationships can usually be uncovered with a little bit of sleuthing.
Sometimes there is no conspicuous linkage between the two parties except that those researchers who produce a favorable report will be the recipient of repeat business, especially research grants.
In the case of the referenced acetaminophen research here’s what the lead study author had to say about its efficacy as an emotion reliever.
“Rather than just being a pain reliever, acetaminophen can be seen as an all-purpose emotion reliever,” stated Geoffrey Durso, lead study author.
Of course, the most concerning aspect to this finding is that it can be misunderstood and/or misused by the buying public. Many individuals may be tempted to pop pills containing acetaminophen as a way of suppressing negative emotions or uncomfortable feelings. In this manner people can fall into the trap of self-medicating to the point of dependency.
We live in quite challenging times. The stresses of everyday life are seemingly increasing by the year. Emotions, particularly negative emotions, are running high in every sphere of life just as they are between various nations and religious groups.
As a consequence, everyone has more than their share to process emotionally and mentally. The resulting psychological burdens can easily push the everyday consumer to opt for a quick emotional fix in the form of yet another pill; in this case, for emotional pain relief.
As reported by Yahoo Health:
“The participants who were given acetaminophen had a less extreme reaction to all of the photos, compared to those who took the placebo. The positive images were not viewed as positively and the negative photos weren’t seen as negative. Their emotional reactions resulted in the same fashion — they didn’t feel strongly about any of photos, reporting an average level of emotion of 5.85 when they looked at the extreme images.”
As the description above indicates, those that received acetaminophen were biochemically desensitized. Such an emotional deadening to normally provocative stimuli is certainly an example of how the individual might react to something which ought to trigger a healthy, essential and even life-preserving response.
Have the makers of acetaminophen pain relief products really thought through the many potential social consequences of marketing their drugs in this fashion?
Image from: ConsumerAffairs