I have Crohn’s disease. I take pills. Twelve a day. Really expensive pills. Thank God for insurance. Specifically, I take Asacol, which is Mesalamine wrapped up in a plastic tablet that’s designed to keep it from releasing the good stuff before it gets to the target area in my poop pipe. It works, kind of. I have long periods of remission punctuated by some very long periods of, let’s just say, discomfort. When that happens I get to take a course of Prednisone , which is similar to making a pact with the devil. Fortunately I’ve been in a fairly long period of remission (knock wood) I think partially due to some diet changes and some supplements that my doctor probably would view as the product of witchcraft, but that’s another story.
This story is about some flat out weirdness in the world of pharmaceuticals. Recently I got a letter from my mail order pharmacy telling me that the FDA was taking Asacol off the market and that I should contact my doc to get a substitute prescription, some alternative that the name of which I can’t remember. Naturally I went right to Google to find out the reason for the ban. It turns out that the coating on the tablets contains Dibutyl Phthalate. It’s a plasticizer. It’s used in nail polish as a solvent of dyes and to prevent the polish from becoming brittle. There’s a lot of controversy about it getting into to environment. And I’ve been putting it in my body on a regular basis FOR YEARS.
So I call the doc and inform them of the situation, which they seemed to be vaguely aware of. They agreed to give me a new prescription. When I saw the prescription I was shocked to see that rather than the alternative medication, it was for 400 mg Asacol tablets, six a day. So same dosage, just bigger pills. At first I thought that the 400s had a different coating, but some research quickly revealed that wasn’t the case. The FDA banned the 200 mg pills and not the 400 mg. WTF?!?
Now I realize that taking the bigger pills means I get more bang for my DBP buck (math wizards out there, I’d love to see how one calculates this ratio) but in my mind, poison is poison. The stuff is associated with some forms of cancer, two headed frogs, obesity and the galloping never-get-overs. On the flip side, the research isn’t conclusive and the dose I’m taking is so small that it might kill me in fifty years. Plus the drug itself, contributes to hair loss. Now that’s something to worry about.
Given all that and the fact that I’ve been doing really well since I started taking magic potions from the patent medicine quacks, I quit taking the stuff this week. That lasted a couple of days and then I started feeling the tell tale cramps in my gut that sometimes warn of an approaching flare up. I’m back on it. On the advice of Dr. Faustus.
I have , although, stopped drinking Becky’s nail polish.