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2 Truths and 1 Lie: Bonkers Side Effects and Impossible Drug Names

By Motley Fool Staff - Jan 18, 2016 at 11:03AM

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Can you guess which of these side effects and drug names are fake?

Ever read through a medication's side effects and found that after the normal risks like upset stomach or dizziness there are items like cooking a midnight snack while asleep or becoming a compulsive gambler? Have you ever tried to pronounce a drug's name out loud and realized it was impossible?

In this clip, Kristine Harjes and Todd Campbell play "two truths and a lie" about some of the oddest medicine side effects, and explain why drug names are so fantastically complicated. Kristine presents Todd with 3 statements, Todd guesses which is the lie, and Kristine explains the back story.

A full transcript follows the video.


This podcast was recorded on Dec. 28, 2015.

Kristine Harjes: My first category I had prepared for you is, "weird side effects of medicines." Here's your three. Is it: experiencing synesthesia, which is the experience of having one sense activated, such as smell, through the stimulation of another sense like hearing; is it losing your fingerprint; or is it becoming a compulsive gambler?

Todd Campbell: Great, you want me to pick which is true?

Harjes: Yeah. Of course, because they're side effects of medicines, it's not that you're going to have this happen, it's just well-documented that this could happen.

Campbell: I'm going to say that number two and three are pretty outlandish, which probably could mean that they're true, but I'll go with number one being true and the other two being false.

Harjes: We only need one lie, two truths.

Campbell: Oh! One lie! So, I'll go with the second one as the lie.

Harjes: The fingerprint?

Campbell: Yes.

Harjes: It's actually the first one. It is totally possible that this is a side effect out there somewhere, I could not find any evidence of that being a side effect of any medicine. I found plenty of hallucinogenic illicit drugs, but as far as I know, that's not a real side effect of a medicine. However, losing your fingerprint can be caused by a cancer drug called Xeloda, and the compulsive gambling may be a side effect of Mirapex, which is for Parkinson's and restless leg syndrome.

Campbell: Okay, great. That was fun.

Harjes: Yeah, who knew. So, speaking of tripping over drug names all the time, that's actually the second category that I had, so I'll dive right into that one. "Weird drug names." So, all three of these will be branded drug names, so, not the pre-approval scientific name a drug gets while it's still in development. So, which one of these three do you think is made up? I feel like I should spell them too, I'll say them and spell them. Gosh, this is going to be rough. Is it: Celecoxib, Darmurixa, or Metaxalone? I feel like I'm in a spelling bee.

Campbell: I feel like I'm watching Transformers, or my kids have Power Rangers on in the background.

Harjes: It's like we're casting spells in Harry Potter.

Campbell: Yeah, like spells from Harry Potter. I'm going to say ... what was the third one again?

Harjes: Metaxalone.

Campbell: We'll go with Metaxalone as the lie.

Harjes: So, the one I made up was actually two, Darmurixa. I should be able to say that one, I made it up.

Campbell: I think you're pronouncing it wrong!

Harjes: Yeah, really, I can say it however I want to say it. So, the first one is an anti-inflammatory, that was Celecoxib. Then, Metaxalone is a muscle relaxant. Fun fact about these crazy drug names -- when I was doing my research for this, I literally just googled, "What are some crazy drug names?" And I found articles explaining why drugs have crazy names. Todd, do you have any idea what the reasoning is behind that?

Campbell: The only thing I can think of is that it's to make sure that there's no risk of having an overlapping name or confusion.

Harjes: Yeah, that's totally what it comes from.

Campbell: Interesting!

Harjes: Yeah. There was and arthritis drug called Celebrex, and an antidepressant called Celexa, and apparently people were getting confused. And the big problem is, if a pharmacist is reading a prescription, and doctors sometimes will just scribble it down, and if you are pharmacist reads the wrong thing and they give you an antidepressant when you're supposed to have an arthritis medication, that's really not good. So the FDA have started to get a lot stricter about having these super unique names, not just a little unique but it needs to be markedly different than anything else out there. Apparently, they actually reject four out of ten proposed drug names.

Campbell: Wow, that's interesting right there. It's going to be really hard on us as we do future shows, because eventually, these names are going to be ten letters long.

Harjes: Yeah, more and more syllables. And as it is, we're seeing all these more Hs and Js and Xs in names.

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