Some years ago, Quip Tide extolled the virtues of a widely advertised prescription medication, Dammitol™, to “reduce anxiety, agita, melancholy, dyspepsia and lumbago” among grumpy men. 

Like all prescriptions, Dammitol™ (Propylhydrolexadrine doubletalkamide) had known side effects, including toenail fungus, tinnitus and death. It was not recommended for certain hypersensitive groups, who were warned in a typeface so tiny that it was usually thought to be a misprint:

“Patients who have blue or brown eyes, who are pregnant, who might be pregnant, or whose mothers were ever pregnant, should not take Dammitol™, or even watch TV ads for Dammitol™, except while wearing dark glasses. Dammitol™ should not be taken by patients under 13 years of age, over 61 years of age, or born on Tuesdays, except during February in leap years.”

Still, grumpy men flocked by the millions to their urologists, insisting on Dammitol™ prescriptions, which were quickly and illegibly scribbled. The demand for Dammitol™ was no doubt fueled by its brand name, a homonym for a phrase exclaimed by grumpy men an average of 17 times a day, according to pre-release market research by SortaCon, the manufacturer.

Off-label uses for Dammitol™ were soon discovered (made up). The “Wonder Drug,” as marketers soon nicknamed it, was touted to relieve diverse maladies — everything from acne to zemmiphobia (fear of giant mole rats; really). The law of supply and demand, enacted by Congress in 1842, quickly sent the price per tablet from $1.12 to $47,978, which in turn led to a variety of copycat drugs rushing to market, including Dagnabit and Panaseeya.   

The public, now all fairly grumpy without gender or other distinctions, demanded answers: 

Public: “Why don’t you just ramp up production and lower the price?”

SortaCon: “Because that would cost us more.”

Ever vigilant of fluctuations in the public’s famously short attention spans, the House of Representatives and Senate stepped into the fray, appointing competing blue-ribbon committees to investigate the alleged price gouging. Years later, the two committees issued their reports, one concluding that the high cost of Dammitol™ was caused by sunspots, the other blaming it on giant mole rats, other than those serving in Congress.   

SortaCon did not escape its day of judgment. It reached a class-action settlement with the 2,300 law firms that filed suits, paying $2 billion to a “refund fund,” of which nearly 10 percent was actually paid to Dammitol™ buyers.

Within a year SortaCon came out with its next “Wonder Drug,” Sydefex™.   

louie@hmbreview.com isn’t even the least bit grumpy.

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