Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge

George Clooney, You, and Chantix

One of the more recent offerings in the pernicious practice of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising from Big Pharma is a tortoise and a hare hawking a smoking cessation med: Chantix. The drug, varenicline tartrate, has a dual action in that it acts as both a partial agonist (enhancing activity but not by too much) and antagonist (blocker) of the alpha2beta4 nicotinic acid acetylcholine receptors. These are ligand-gated ion channel receptors, a major class of receptors in the CNS which comprises the targets for many drugs. Here’s an illustration of a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, ripped off from the Wikipedia entry.

Also, take a look at Corpus Callosum’s (pre-Science Blogs) article on Chantix.

As with any med, Chantix has side effects: some adverse, some not-sot-adverse, and some, well, kind of provocative. The superlative John Mack of the Pharma Marketing Blog(1) discusses his investigation of one of the odd side effects of varenicline tartrate in Chantix Californication Dreamin’: Viagra II. Because Chantix acts as a partial agonist (see Big Papa Pfizer’s notes on Chantix’s mechanism of action), the upregulation of dopamine results in – how should we say – pleasurable dreams. The intrepid Mr. Mack went so far as to investigate what consumers were saying about Chantix on Health Boards.

From his perhaps not comprehensive study (but entertaining all the same). Mr Mack reports

that a good portion of dreams involve Hollywood movie stars like George Clooney. And there’s a decidedly sexual overtone to these dreams.

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An example from a Chantix consumer:

“Wow, this is just too funny. I’ve been dreaming of George Clooney!! Before Chantix, I don’t believe that I’ve every dreamed of him, but for the past week he visits me every night (;”

And my favorite:

“I keep dreaming of Orlando Bloom. Orlando and Johnny Depp keep fighting over me. Sometimes in their pirate outfits, sometimes not. Then I had a dream that I was riding on a motcycle w/ john travolta, (i watched wild hogs that day) and Tom Cruise was the dog sitter and of coarse he was wearing his pink leather collar. Weird! Anyway, I guess the saying ‘a girl can always dream’ takes on a whole new meaning now.”

Mr. Mack wonders if Pfizer might be chokin’ another Viagra chicken here, i.e., the phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor, originally indicated for cardiovascular disease, whose notable side effect resulted in the famous blue pill.

Hmmm, maybe it has potential but the prospect of a dream with the bilious John Travolta on a throbbing “hog” and Tom Cruise wearing a pink leather color is downright scary. Is there some…Scientology connection here? I think I’ll wait until I can get that droud implant.

(1) Pharma Marketing is recommended and gets 4 pant-hoots on a five point scale. Why not five, you ask? Well, it does come from the unholy realm of marketing.

Comments

  1. #1 Warren
    October 23, 2007

    Am I the only one getting creepy parallelism vibes between Chantix’s side effects and the remake of Solaris, which stars Clooney pining for — and dreaming of — his late wife, and features several gratuitous Clooney butt-shots?

    Maybe this is the beginning of the dream advertisements suggested in Futurama

  2. #2 The Neurocritic
    October 23, 2007

    It looks like George Clooney is ready for all those nocturnal admirers:

    George Clooney Steps Out With Purple “Liberator” Sex Ramp

    The Boston Globe explains:

    George Clooney is using a ‘Liberator Sex Ramp’ to aid love making after being injured in a motorbike crash.

    The Hollywood heartthrob and girlfriend Sarah Larson appear to need a little extra help in the bedroom after Clooney was photographed leaving his New York townhouse carrying the purple sloped sex cushion…

  3. #3 Doc Bushwell
    October 23, 2007

    I realize it’s extremely puerile for me to do this, but…

    LOL!

    The comments in response to the Jezebel.com are priceless. In particular…

    “why does he look so weird here? Is it the outfit? The facial hair? He looks like my Dad circa 1979. Except for the sex ramp, of course.”

  4. #4 Alan Kellogg
    October 23, 2007

    Chantix is not another Viagra, which acts to address a mechanical problem. Chantix enhances sensation, thus it’s effect on libido. We have examples of its effect on women, but what about men?

    What happens when adolescents learn about it?

  5. #5 Doc Bushwell
    October 24, 2007

    Chantix is not another Viagra…

    In the sense of pharmacological mechanism of action, that’s correct. In the sense out of potential marketing of a med for uses other than its intended therapy, Mack suggests – cheekily I might add – that there may be a parallel.

    There are other side effects of Chantix, some less than humorous, and yes, men made comments, too. Check out the links to John Mack’s article and also Health Boards for more.