To my great distress, it appears that I have actually retained something from HL chemistry. (I warn you – a lot of it will appear in this post. Read at your own risk.)
This sorry tale began when I was perusing the Sunday newspaper. I had a list of chores waiting, so naturally I took my time. When I flipped over a page, I was confronted with an ad for a ‘miracle pill’. Everyone knows the type. They slow aging, make heart problems vanish, make you bleed rainbows, whatever. These were for weight loss.
What caught my attention was the introduction paragraph, which announced that new pills had appeared quickly after the FDA pulled old versions off the shelves. Besides the obvious problem of the FDA taking action, ‘quickly’ made me nervous. We spent a whole class period on drug research and formation. From isolating a lead compound to putting bottles on the shelves, the process should take around ten years. Faster isn’t safe.
Skepticism fully engaged, I read further. The chem part of my brain grew more and more distressed. The ad (and the website I checked later) did not specify a lead compound (active ingredient). Instead, it used vague terms like ‘complex phenylethylamine’. (I drew this structure and was interested to see that it was very close to amphetamine.) They were selling these pills without explaining what was in them, escaping necessary regulations and testing by marketing them as supplements rather than medication.
I launched into a rant to my family about corporate irresponsibility and consumer stupidity, referencing vocabulary terms like ‘chiral center’ and Thalidomide. Partway through, I stopped in horror. What was I doing? Chemistry was over. I shouldn’t be scrawling organic molecules’ structural formulas all over the newspaper.
It’s depressing, but it’s also depressing that companies use people’s ignorance to sell products that could be dangerous. A word to the wise – miracles usually stay in fairy tales. Avoid pills promising unnatural results, especially if they won’t tell you everything. Or just call in a chemistry student. We’ve got your back.