Let us begin by giving a shout out to Nicholas Pelletier who, on April 25, 1792, became the first guest of the guillotine in Paris, the city of light. Nick was a murderer and a robber sentenced to death. France had been using a two-tier system of capital punishment until Nick came along. In the late 1700s, common criminals were executed in a variety of unpleasant ways: torture, burning at the stake and breaking on the wheel. Convicted aristocrats got a better deal. They were dispatched by the State Executioner Charles Sanson. Chuck was an expert swordsman who could slice off their heads with one swift blow from Rufus, his special Executing Sword. 

The disparity between the send offs for common criminals versus aristocrats seemed unfair to the bleeding hearts of France. In the interest of equality, the idea spread that commoners and rich guys should both check out in the same fashion through sword beheading. 

Like all simple solutions for complex problems , there were practical issues with cutting off everyone’s head with a sword. Chuck, the state executioner, pointed out that many more executioners would have to be hired to travel France. Sometimes the special Executing Sword would break, creating a mess. Ordinary swords just wouldn’t do the job. Paris only had two such swords. Sacre bleu!

Enter our old buddy, Dr. Joseph Guillotin, with his bright idea. He invented the guillotine. His device dropped a heavy blade from a scaffold onto the neck of the condemned. Joe enthusiastically explained the value of his invention, saying: “The mechanism falls like lightning; the head flies off; the blood spurts; the man no longer exists.” Progress is our most important product. After a number of trials on farm animals, and allegedly with some suggestions of French King Louis XIV, the guillotine was ready to be tried on Nick in late April 1792. The Guillotine was painted a festive red and set up in downtown Paris. A crowd worthy of the Gator Bowl came to watch the send off. Whack! Mon Dieu! It worked. Nick was dispatched to his reward.

 The guillotine went viral. It was manufactured and spread all over France, lopping off heads with industrial efficiency. French toy makers made tiny guillotines that children could use to lop off the heads of their dolls or live mice. Chuck Sanson became a lean mean killing machine. He killed 300 people in three days after the French Revolution turned into the Reign of Terror. As a side effect of Dr. G’s invention, Louis XIV lost his head to Chuck.

Currently, the Pharmaceutical Side Effect Development Council has spent many years developing opioids to mask pain and create legions of addicts to its products. The goal of the Side Effects Council is to mask one medical problem while creating multiple new exciting and expensive side effects that can only be remedied by taking another drug, which in turn creates new side effects. Have you ever held one mirror up in front of another mirror and watched the endless reflections curve off into infinity? That is the business plan of the Side Effects Council. One drug begats side effects that can only be remedied by another drug, which begats different side effects. As the King of Siam once said, “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” Side effects equal profits. 

 How can this be? Oh, it be. If you are of a certain age and watch TV news, you can’t avoid the TV ad for Movantik which has been invented to cure opioid-induced constipation, or OIC as the cool kids call it. A rugged construction foreman tells us he hurt his back and has to take opioids for pain. The opioids have backed him up. He’s tried prunes, laxatives and various folk remedies by the light of the moon. He finally tells his cute doctor that he is constipated. She smiles and asks him how long he has been holding back this information. This is his Movantik Moment. He is now happy and free to discuss his constipation. He smiles, takes the meds as prescribed, and becomes a regular fellow again. 

Dr. Guillotin would be proud. King Louis the XIV died due to a side effect of the guillotine. America’s opioid addiction epidemic has created side effects undreamed of by Dr. G. Opioid — side effects that exist on a scale that makes the French Reign of Terror look like an ice cream social. If you are not sitting in twin bath tubs next to your beloved waiting for the Cialis to kick in, you, too, can have a Movantik Moment. Big Pharma is full of something other than just obscene profits. The ad guys originally wanted to call this a Movantik Movement but Standards and Practices nixed that slogan.

Let my people go. 

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