Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Absurdity of Off-Brand Medication

Twisting the gears in a much different direction this week (I’ll talk about squares, ratchets and robot wifus later on in the month) I’m turning my attention towards something that I feel is a bit ridiculous. Yes, I’m talking about off-brand medication. The whole idea behind products and marketing is that name brands are generally seen as better and I could see something like that working insofar as pudding or cereal, perhaps even a soft drink, but when it comes to medication and health, why is the off-brand not considered over the name brand?

Read this back one more time and really soak it in: Are we literally telling people that one brand of medicine won’t work as well as the other? That in order to get a more pure and possibly better medication, we have to pay more money for it?

Why, that’s laughable. Are they selling sugar pills as off-brand medication? With that sort of logic, they’d have to. Most medicine is made in India, then brought over to the US and other parts of Europe where it is exorbitantly priced for sale over the counter or on the shelves. Might I mention that it’s ridiculously cheap over in India to begin with? Costs very little to make, literally just a plastic coating and a powder more often than not.

History lessons aside, it makes a man think that he must get a Prilosec to treat his heartburn, rather than just getting the store brand which should by all means, do the same thing. I mean, we’re not in the running for best taste and texture here – it’s a pill designed to cure your ails, whether that be an upset stomach, a headache or even diarrhea. Most people even subconsciously realize that most of these medicines do the exact same thing, but we’re taught to get the name brand stuff over anything else.
As we get smarter with age, we realize that the off-brand stuff is just as good, and it really ought to be. If you look at the active ingredient in most pain pills, it’s acetaminophen. Usually you get about 500-1000 mg of it per dose, more if your head is really doing a number on you. Some people take the prescribed amount (usually two tablets by mouth) while most will take three, four or more. Not good for the stomach (acetaminophen causes major stomach issues over time) but most people just want the damn pain to go away. In any case, it really doesn’t matter what brand you use (unless you’re paying for a higher dosage in each capsule, which is silly as you could just take another pill) because they all contain the same amount of acetaminophen despite whatever else is extra (assuming it’s also for other issues.) Unless they’re cutting it with coke these days, you’re getting the same effect no matter what you choose. Some people can’t take Aspirin, that’s pretty common. Some people can’t take Tylenol, that happens too. Even so, the off brand medicine still has just as much an effect as anything else. If you need more than that, please see a doctor for a stronger medicine in general.

It just feels to me quite silly that we’ve all been conditioned to the point where we’ll take the name brand medicine over the store brand stuff, just because we assume that it’ll be better. Just because of the shiny label or the nice packaging. Just because “Tylenol is a name you trust.” Or “Nothing stops pain faster than Bayer.” They’ve replaced all the smoking ads with cowboys with those for medications, and this is what we’re taught whenever we turn on the television. If a man had no TV, he wouldn’t even know or care what Bayer or Tylenol or Prilosec or Tums was. He’d go to the medicine aisle and pick the cheapest brand of medication he could get. What’s wrong with the store brand? It’s the same shit, made in the same factory. All beer is made in the same factory. All sunglasses are made in the same factory.

That illusion of choice gets smaller and smaller and smaller as we learn that the same company that printed Slipknot CD’s also printed CD’s for Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. Surely Tool has some metaphysical printing process for their records that defies human explanation and wouldn’t be made in the same factory with Lil’ Wayne and Taylor Swift, right? Surely Amon Amarth is so metal and forged in the fires of Surtur that they’re CD’s and little plastic viking boats wouldn’t be printed in the same factory as Jason Derulo and Maroon 5, right? Wrong. It all gets printed in the same damn factory, as it has for years. Unless you know a local or independent printer, or print these records yourself, it all comes out of the same factory. So do all of the games, toys, stuffed animals, popcorn, crackers, boats, bowflexes, snow shoes, snow plows, basketballs, ovens, frisbees, frying pans, computers, coconuts (okay, so maybe not that one) and everything else that you can imagine.

So once we’ve accrued this information, why would we ever bother to think that a name brand medication is really better? Most often that not, your mind subconsciously plays tricks on you, much like a placebo. “That pill didn’t work for me when it wasn’t the name brand. Didn’t feel as a strong, so I’m going to have to go buy the real stuff next time.” Then you go and buy the real stuff, lo and behold it works. Like a charm. Like a charm that you yourself have charmed, if you want to know the facts. Alan Moore always said that the real magicians are the advertisers, and he’s definitely right about that. If you can make a pile of shit look flashy enough, someone’s going to buy it. There’s a sucker every minute, so they say.

Who else can make millions of people all want the same thing at the same time? Advertisers. “Look at how rich I am, you can be rich too if you buy my album, wear my clothes, talk like I do, get breast implants like I do, remove your ribs like I did, get butt injections like I did, and look how much I can squat. You’ll be able to do the same too if you follow me.” I’m not one to paraphrase the Bible often, but Jesus himself said something to the tune of, “sell all of your shit and follow me.” If it’s not him, it’s everyone else. The question I want to know, is where in the hell am I following you to? The answer to that is nowhere. You can follow all of the people in your life that you wish to follow (and thanks to Twitter, you can quite literally follow them) but in the end, all you’ll lose is sense of self. Which most people have already lost. They develop so many masks over the course of time and experience that they tend to forget who it is that they are to begin with. Like the old Who song, “Who are you? Who? Who?” Yeah, I really want to know. Do you know who you are? If you don’t, then that’s why we have so many celebrities out there to show you the way.

Why be yourself, when you can be them? Why have a normal car, when you can have a gas-guzzling hot rod? Why have a normal house, when you can have a mansion with servants. Why have a decent sized television set, when you can have a screen that fills an entire wall of your fucking house? What will all this shit mean in the end? You can’t take it with you when you’re dead. Yet all of this beats around the bush to say, yes – yes you – are being fooled by names, labels and fancy pictures in a very important matter as health.

We already neglect the hell out of our bodies here in the US, with people visiting fast food more now than ever. I eat the stuff more than I should, but more people are outright skipping lunch and dinner to eat fast food, so they won’t have to cook at home. The funny thing is that most of these celebrities are actually not eating fast food. They have their own chefs, which prepare mostly healthy home-cooked meals with the finest of ingredients. So keep believing the lies when a model takes a bite out of a cheeseburger. Off camera she probably spits it back out and runs to the bathroom to purge herself.

It is very easy to be played a fool by the world itself. Politicians claim to change the way things are, while celebrities seek to enrich your life by allowing you to worship theirs. Which is also a facade. It’s all one big sham over a facade covering a farce. But what you can do is to be a bit more mindful and open about your surroundings. Is it really better because it says “Tylenol” instead of “Pain Reliever?” Is it really better because it says “Pepcid AC” rather than “Heartburn Relief?” You know what it does, so why be so picky about it? Off-brand medication is quite absurd to begin with, because of the sheer fact that medicine in the end, should be medicine. Companies should not be battling companies over the health of people. Isn’t the health and well-being of a human life more important than making a profit? That’s what should be important. It just doesn’t make any sense, like so many other things in this world. But I’ll get to some of those other things next time.


  1. This is my personal blog, with my own personal opinions. Editorials rarely cite sources. Bug off.