Death By Chocolate

Prompt Day #57: The title of your piece is “Death by Chocolate.” Go.

Death by Chocolate

Excerpt from commercial for diet drug Chocolean (March 2014): “Cindy! You look great! What’s your secret?”…..”It’s Chocolean, the new FDA approved drug that makes it so easy to lose weight. I eat egg whites for breakfast, a salad for lunch with boiled chicken and usually the same for dinner and the weight is melting off!”……”Oh well, good for you, I could never eat that stuff; I have too many cravings for sweets, especially around my period. It seems like every diet drug is the same—it works as long as you follow a healthy diet.”……”That’s the thing, I hate all those foods too, but Chocolean makes everything taste like chocolate! It’s great. I never crave cookies or candy bars anymore!”……. “Ok, I’m sold! It sounds easy to eat right when healthy food tastes like chocolate!”…..It sure is! You should talk to your doctor today!”

Excerpt from law suit commercial (December 2014): Have you or a loved one developed anorexia or even died of starvation after using the prescription diet drug Chocolean? The FDA has recently recalled the medication Chocolean due to severe and deadly side effects, if you know anyone who has suffered as a result of taking this medication, call 1-800-bad-drug today.

Diet Drug Pulled from Market after Multiple Starvation Deaths

AP—One year after its long-awaited release, the FDA in conjunction with Pfitser pharmaceuticals have pulled the diet drug Chocolean off the market after multiple starvation deaths which have been attributed to prolonged and severe side effects of the drug. Spokesman for Pfitser, Dr. J. Spratt, made the announcement in a press conference earlier today. “We at Pfitser are dedicated to the health and welfare of our consumers. In order to better study the long term effects and to improve its mechanism of action, Pfitser has chosen to voluntarily pull the drug Chocolean from the market. Chocolean was put through a number of well-designed drug trials before putting it on the market. Like all new prescription drugs, long term effects cannot always be predicted. It is impossible to assume that we could in any way foresee patients’ eventual aversion to food in general or the permanence of the effect even after discontinuing the drug. We are saddened by the deaths of patients who trusted our company’s good name and our sympathy goes out to the families of those who lost the battle with their weight struggles.” This statement has already garnered angry comments from consumers groups and Eating Disorder Advocacy groups for the implication that the victims are to be blamed for their own deaths.

Chocolean was released as a prescription strength weight loss aid in early 2014. It is a centrally acting drug that, per the maker’s website: “Alters the neurons in the brain associated with taste, fooling the brain into tasting creamy milk chocolate flavor instead of flavors of vegetables and other health food supplements such as chia seeds, wheat grass, spinach smoothies and the like.” The medication flew out of pharmacies when it was released and its success rates neared 100%. The reviews for the drug touted it as an aid to train patients to eat healthy by flavoring the food with one of the most commonly craved fattening snacks. Nutritionists and Health food advocates were pushing for the drug to be made available to children and those who were only slightly overweight to avoid further fat accumulation. The drug was approved for six months of use followed by a weaning process. The idea was that over time, the patient would develop an aversion to the flavor of chocolate and sugary snacks. With gradual reintroduction of only healthy foods, the patient would be retrained to enjoy those foods (much like a baby learns to like foods of its native country) and could go on to lead an active and fit life.

The aversion to the flavor of chocolate did indeed occur but unfortunately, the alteration to the neurons was permanent and the weaning and subsequent discontinuation of the drug did little to change the patient’s taste receptors. With nothing but the flavor chocolate tasted with any and every food eaten, many patients became so sickened, they quit eating altogether and despite medicine’s best efforts, many succumbed to starvation. Some committed suicide when they found the effects to be permanent. Lawsuits began less than a year after the drug hit the market and in December 2014, the FDA began a formal investigation into the deaths resulting in this morning’s announcement.

At this time more than a thousand deaths have been directly and indirectly linked to the drug. An FDA spokesman had this to say: “We’ve learned a lot from this terrible and senseless tragedy. With diet drugs becoming the fastest growing pharmaceutical market, we may need to adjust our time requirements for human trials. As a government institution, we must first and foremost be advocates to the consumers of prescription drugs. We must not let these deaths be in vain.”