Do TV commercials for drugs irritate you?

Well, I’m here to help.

From what I’m hearing, Prevagen should get the Clio for the most irritating ads on TV*. Let us cheer! Yay, Prevagen! What an advertising achievement! You make us growl.

Since I am immune from catching the Oh I Have To Buy This Miracle Stuff! TV ad virus, I’m the perfect person to do some digging around.

With a big assist from my friend Yola, here is what I’ve learned about Prevagen.

I recalled the initial Prevagen ads claimed the product was derived from some wondrous stuff found in certain jellyfish, stuff that enhanced our brain functioning, specifically our memory. Prevagen is not running those ads anymore. Why not?

Because those claims caused a class action lawsuit, which Prevagen had to settle for a ton of money.

And then the FDA stepped in, because Prevagen’s claim about that jellyfish stuff wasn’t quite accurate. The company producing Prevagen does not, it turns out, harvest jellyfish for their apoaequorin (a/k/a jellyfish stuff). Instead, they make a lab version of it which makes Prevagen not a supplement, but a drug.

Oh. And their claims of no side effects are false (my bolding):

In a warning letter, the FDA accused the company of not reporting to the government “adverse events like seizures, strokes, and worsening symptoms of multiple sclerosis that had been reported to your firm as being associated with the use of Prevagen products.” Reports about the supplement to the company have also included chest pain, tremors, fainting and other serious symptoms, the FDA says.

So why is Prevagen still on the market — at a pretty hefty cost? At Duane Reade, the packages are locked up behind a glass door which, like a bank vault, can be opened only by request.

Well, Prevagen changed its TV ad claims. Indeed, it doesn’t claim anything for itself. It corralled some older users who tell us that their memories had been improved by taken Prevagen. And that people around them have noticed how sharp their memories are. “‘You’ve got the memory of an elephant!'” one guy reports people have told him.

If you listen carefully to these testaments, you can easily pick them apart. How can someone claim Prevagen has worked for eight years? What’s the basis of comparison?

It’s all absurd.

So what should we all be taking to enhance our memories? Before I looked at Prevagen itself, I found a report on “brain vitamins” on WebMD. If you are wild to believe that something will help you think better, or remember an actor you saw once in a TV show thirty years ago, or will ward off Alzheimer’s, hey, read the report. Depending on your level of desperation, you might find something in there.

I, for one, will continue to drink coffee and cook with turmeric (also known as poor man’s saffron). And eat nuts, grains, greens, fish and yadda yadda yadda.

*There is no such Clio. Drat.


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