A Medication Spelling Bee. . .or Be

“Mother, please! I’d rather do it myself.”

“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”

“The nighttime sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head fever so you can rest medicine.”

Catch phrases from television commercials for easily accessible products for simple, common ailments from the 1960s and ’70s. The first promoted Anacin, for headaches. The second was for Alka-Seltzer. Nyquil was the product praised in the final one.

It was a simple time, innocent in many ways. Commercials didn’t discuss personal health issues or serious conditions, but rather touted products we all use or need at some time for minor ailments. They sold remedies for disorders that, while possibly embarrassing like bad breath or acne, they could be discussed among friends, That, however, was then. This is now.

Today the most private medical conditions are part of the television viewer’s advertisement diet, whether the viewer is six or sixty. And this could be problematic. For the young, these commercials might raise awkward questions that could lead to answers for which most kids are not ready. Imagine explaining vaginal dryness to an inquisitive lad of eight.

Unlike Anacin, Alka-Seltzer, and Nyquil, the personal products promoted in many of today’s ads cannot be snatched unassisted from an Aisle B shelf; they require a doctor’s prescription. They necessitate interaction with another person. Maybe more.

Whether they are for menopause, erectile dysfunction, menstruation, pre-mature hair loss, or accidental urination, the products and the conditions they treat are personal. Therefore, some of these commercials, while they expose and educate onlookers about serious subjects, may cross the line that some might consider TMI (Too Much information).

I, personally, don’t. I find these ads interesting. But not for the right reasons. I am not interested in the product itself or the condition it treats. Nor am I interested in the commercial’s production value. Instead, I find the names of all these new medical products fascinating, mysterious, entertaining, and often quite funny. I wonder if these products’ names are simply a random linking of letters or if they have a logical, medically-based entomology. I say “medically based” because I cannot connect the product names to the ailments they treat. At least with Alka-Seltzer one could see how the bubbling action of seltzer could aid in digestive problems or the “Ny” in Nyquil implies night relief. The names of some new medications, on the other hand, seem to come from the languages of gibbons, whales, or Klingons. I am talking about medications like …

Ocrevus, Skyrizi, Dupixent, Nuplazid, Cosentyx, Tremfya, Kisqali, Trintellix, Rybelsus, Ozempic, Breztri, and Vemlidy.

I am not mocking the diseases and conditions these products cure or alleviate, nor am I unsympathetic to those who need them. I am merely pointing out their gobbledygook names and wondering how thy came to be. In fact, I take medical advancement very seriously, so seriously in fact, I, along with my lab assistant Igor, am developing three new medications for embarrassing ailments and are giving them logical, appropriate names.

The first medication is for actors who develop heartburn from the pressure of having to memorize extensive dialogue. It is called Serabyrnhardtd. For the elderly couch potato, we are developing Geriatrofi. And we are proud to announce the recent approval by the Food and Drug Administration of our cure-all for French wine hangovers, Avotresanté.

To your health.

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