The other day, driving home from work, I heard an ad for a pill called "Nuvigil" which pitched itself as a solution for "Work Shift Disorder". I don't often call shenanigans on other people's medical woes, but Nuvigil sounds like, dare I say?, a bunch of malarkey. Or at least what its supposedly treating.
Now, even according to Nuvigil's own site, "Work Shift Disorder" seems to be an issue striking people who work the graveyard shift, which is in conflict with the normal pattern of sleeping at night and being up during the day. While its not hard to agree that for those whose clocks don't adjust well, feeling logy on the job can't be much fun, but last I checked, we've had a solution for this problem for a few hundred years. Its called "coffee" and "adjusting your schedule".
This isn't to mention the few dozen other options available from a strong tea to Vivarin to 5-Hour Energy Drink.
All this aside, what's most striking about the ad isn't that a pharmaceutical company is making up an issue for which it is providing a solution. Thanks to advertising rules, the ad is about 80% list of warnings and possibel side-effects.
These include (from the ad and Nuvigil website):
NUVIGIL may cause serious side effects including a serious rash or a serious allergic reaction that may affect parts of your body such as your liver or blood cells, and may result in hospitalization and be life-threatening. If you develop a skin rash, hives, sores in your mouth, blisters, swelling, peeling, or yellowing of the skin or eyes, trouble swallowing or breathing, dark urine, or fever, stop taking NUVIGIL and call your doctor right away or get emergency help.This IS a wonder drug! Let me pull one phrase out here: "These are not all the side effects of NUVIGIL."
- Stop taking NUVIGIL and call your doctor or get emergency help if you get any of the following serious side effects:
- Mental (psychiatric) symptoms, including: depression, feeling anxious, sensing things that are not really there, increase in activity (mania), thoughts of suicide, aggression, or other mental problems
- Symptoms of a heart problem, including: chest pain, abnormal heart beat, and trouble breathing
- Common side effects of NUVIGIL are headache, nausea, dizziness, and trouble sleeping. These are not all the side effects of NUVIGIL.
- Tell your doctor if you get any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. Talk to your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
No? What else? Your toes may fall off? You may develop lizard scales on your eyelids? Lay it on me, Nuvigil. Don't keep me in suspense!
I can't find the radio ad online to link to, but Consumer Reports discusses the ad a bit in this YouTube video, including clips from the radio commercial.
I don't dismiss the challenges of my fellow humans who do work a late-night shift. I know that the 3rd shift anywhere has got to be a problem for anybody if they want contact with humanity outside of work, and being awake for a few hours in the middle of the day must cause problems.
By the way, as near as I can tell, Nuvigil is the New Coke of something else called Provigil, which, yes, is used to treat "Work Shift Disorder", but also Narcolepsy and ADD and ADD-like symptoms. We're no medical professionals, but those are things that a cup of coffee and 8 hours of sleep don't clear up.
My guess, however, is that this isn't the same as just having two cups of coffee. So, look forward to your local suburban kids delving into mom and dad's nuvigil supply to increase their power of partying on a Saturday night.