Call For Entries: What Are The Most Disturbing "Side Effects" Mentioned in Drug Ads?

We’re putting together a “top 10” list of disturbing side effects mentioned in drug ads and we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss any.

What are we looking for?

For example, in this AmbienCR commercial, the announcer says:

“Sleepwalking and eating or driving while not fully awake with amnesia for the event have been reported.”

Driving while not awake? With amnesia? Neat!

If you’ve noticed a disturbing side-effect in a tv drug ad, watch the ad again and write down exactly what the announcer says and the name of the drug, and email it to us at Put “Disturbing Side Effect” in the subject of your email. If you can find a clip of the advertisement on the internet, please include a link. If you have a commenter account, feel free to leave your suggestion in the comments.

We’ll pick the top 10 and feature them in a Consumerist post. Thanks!


Edit Your Comment

  1. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Diarrhea and memory loss. I’d hate to shit myself and not remember to clean up…

  2. Snarkysnake says:

    The most distrubing side effects ? Thats easy-

    When highly suggestive people look at a 30 second ad and diagnose their imaginary illness and run to their doctor DEMANDING that drug.

    Thats was easy.

  3. billbillbillbill says:

    2 words- Anal Leakage

  4. cpalifer says:

    Can I get the obvious one out of the way?

    “See a doctor if your erection lasts for 4 hours”. Thank you, Viagra. I wonder if this is a real side effect or an advertisement.

  5. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I have a feeling anal leakage will take the cake.

  6. dustinf36 says:

    Spontaneous anal leakage cant remember the pill it was for though. At what point is this risk better then what you are diagnosed with?

  7. Skiffer says:

    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball…

  8. jscott73 says:

    I’ll keep my eye out for Viagra or some other drug like that that tells users to “seek immediate medical attention for any erection lasting longer then 24 hours”

    I laugh every time I hear it…

  9. Coelacanth says:

    All praise Alli.

  10. qitaana says:

    From the Propecia website:

    “Women who are or may potentially be pregnant must not use PROPECIA and should not handle crushed or broken PROPECIA tablets because the active ingredient may cause abnormalities of a male baby’s sex organs. If a woman who is pregnant comes into contact with the active ingredient in PROPECIA, a doctor should be consulted.”

  11. F.D.V says:

    Dang! I can’t remember the name of the drug but the announcer said one possible side affect is “Blood in stool”. Sweet!

  12. F.D.V says:

    Also, one where the announcer says “thoughts of suicide”. Nice!

  13. MyPetFly says:


    That gets my vote.

  14. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    From Viagra: blue-tinged vision

  15. sir_eccles says:

    Pretty much any sleeping pill ad that has the immortal words:

    “May cause drowsiness”

    May, emphasis on the may.

  16. kaptainkk says:

    Has death ever been mentioned as a side effect in any of these ads?

  17. arniec says:

    My personal favorite is “The way Veramyst works is not entirely understood.”

    So we’ve gone from having medicines to POTIONS.

  18. themediatrix says:

    @billbillbillbill: this is also a warning on potato chip cans. I think it was pringle’s with olestra.

  19. blazesmum says:

    “You should know that some patients have reported changes in behavior, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions when attempting to quit smoking while taking CHANTIX ….”

    When my husband quit smoking 4 years ago, he had all those side effects and he didn’t use the drug Chantix!


  20. angrychicken says:

    There’s a new asthma drug out there that lists one of the side effects as “asthma related death”. That sounds like something I totally want to try.

  21. dadelus says:

    A medication that I’m taking lists “Coma” as one of it’s side effects.

    Although I would say any medications like Ortho Evra (Birth Control Patch) that list “Death” as a side effect should win hands down. Anal leakage may be bad, but you can’t beat a medication that has the balls to come right out and tell you it may kill you.

    Darn! kaptainkk beat me too it

  22. I can’t recall what it was…but there was one that warned of “increased gambling habits” as a possible side effect.

  23. hellinmyeyes says:

    Death and thoughts of suicide are pretty big favorites of mine. What cracks me up is the medicines meant to treat IBS and ulcers, etc, that say “may cause upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, and overall digestive discomfort”. Well, which is it, doc? And aren’t those the symptoms of the original disorder??

  24. BloggyMcBlogBlog says:

    Requip: “Also tell your doctor if you are experiencing new or increased gambling, sexual or other intense urges while taking Requip.”

    + Watch video

  25. Hah! found it!

  26. Bix says:

    Not a side effect, but I just love any variation of “if you are or may potentially be pregnant.”

  27. Bloggy beat me to it.

  28. jamesdenver says:

    this is great. i love how on the commercials the voiceover guy/girl lists them very calmly, as almost they’re smiling chatting about something banal.

    Diarrhea, nausea, acid reflux, severe headaches, etc, etc, etc – are are horrible things.

    I always think “I’d rather just have the condition its trying to relieve”

  29. PinkBox says:

    I’d say death pretty much beats all.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I read on one of my wife’s meds one time..

    may cause brief psychotic episodes…

    or something to that point. We had a good laugh about her stabbing me with a butchers knife in my sleep.

    I locked up the knives once she was asleep.

  31. Shutaro says:

    Spontaneous bleeding from every orifice.

  32. sir_pantsalot says:

    Accutane – an acne drug:
    Side effects can include crying spells, rectal bleeding and bone fractures.

    infections (including disseminated herpes simplex)

  33. dangermike says:

    I’m sure it’s going to be a popular entry but I gotta say the restless leg syndrome stuff has some pretty crazy side effects. IIRC, it was the ad for Requip that mentioned uncontrollable sexual, drinking, and gambling urges. And I, for one, believe the world would be a better place if it were more widely prescribed. =D

  34. mindshadow says:

    @BeFrugalNotCheap: The restless leg syndrome drug, Requip, with “an unusual urge to gamble or increased sexual urges and/or behaviors.”

    This Cracked article pretty much covers this thread: 6 Most Unsettling Medication Side Effects

  35. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I can’t remember the name of it but it’s a drug targeted towards women and it boasted that it had the added effect of clearing up your skin. When they named the side effects the last one they named was “dementia”. After which they immediately repeated that it will clear up your skin.

    But I can’t remember what it was actually for.

  36. bobpence says:

    Not a side effect, but an instruction on some of my prescription meds: “Take with or without food.” I understand that this covers both “can I take this on an empty stomach?” and “must I take this on an empty stomach?” but from a coder’s perspective, it just seems like a waste of processor bandwidth, e.g.

    if (boolVariable = TRUE xor boolVariable = FALSE) then foo; // do this so long as boolVariable MAYBE

  37. Dakine says:

    Side effects may include, (fill in the blank), and death.


    Death is a “side effect”? I’m sorry, but I’m not convinced the benefits outweigh the risk of DEATH.

  38. mindshadow says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I think it was for ortho tri-cyclen.

  39. monkey33 says:

    Oh, I wish I could remember what it was for, but on the television ad, one of the side effects was “flatulence”.

  40. krgreiner says:

    Tysabri (for Multiple Sclerosis) has a potential side effect of PML (unpronouncable), a mostly fatal brain disease which can and has killed people (2 I think). Liver failure is the newest warning, just a few weeks ago. Oh, joy.

    So glad I am so desperate that I am willing to court death to keep walking.

    Can’t BigPharma do any better for us?

  41. bobpence says:

    Hmm, ‘

  42. chiieddy says:

    From Olean: May cause anal leakage

  43. mindshadow says:
  44. AD8BC says:

    Here’s what gets me. I can’t remember what drug (or drugs) this came from but some list “Cold or Flu” as a side effect.

    How the hell is this possible, unless the drug actually contains an active cold or flu virus?

  45. bobpence says:

    oops, boolVariable != MAYBE

    Which, you know, it can’t. It’s 1 or 0. True or False. Never 3/7ths.

  46. jfmcanally says:

    I saw the one monkey33 mentioned but I was laughing so hard I forgot what drug it was for. I think some kind of feminine thing maybe?

  47. t325 says:

    I forgot what the drug was called, but I saw a commercial for an anti-depressant, and one of the side effects was “thoughts of suicide”

    Isn’t that what anti-depressants are supposed to fix?

    My personal favorite though, isn’t so much the side effects, rather, how they’re presented in the commercial. I believe the medicine is Crestor. Anyways, in the commercial, instead of the typical narrator reading off a list of side effects, they’re disclosed in a scene with a doctor talking to his male patient. Then the doctor says something like “Please tell me if you are a pregnant woman or nursing—-blah blah blah.” I’m also a guy, and if my doctor needs my help in figuring out if I’m a pregnant or nursing woman, then I’m finding a new doctor.

  48. Bix says:

    Are you sure it wasn’t “cold or flu-like symptoms”?

  49. Bix says:

    Err, that was supposed to be @AD8BC

  50. jeadie5 says:

    My favorite is “this product is not suitable with those suffering from Herpes of the eye” While not a side effect, eye Herpes definetly qualifies as disturbing.

    All I can say is dont look so close, or wear goggles.

  51. MeOhMy says:

    The RLS drug that has already been mentioned turning people into sex-crazed compulsive gamblers.

    My favorite doesn’t sound all that bad at a glance, but it is:
    Listed as a side effect for Ambien.
    A sleeping pill.

  52. picardia says:

    My mom got some medicine once that said it might cause hallucinations or “brief psychotic episodes.” She made Dad sleep in the other room while she took it.

  53. Jmatthew says:

    There was a medicine that treated your toenails being yellow that listed “Death” as a possible side effect.

    Exactly how likely does Death have to be before you just decide it’s not that bad having yellow toenails?

  54. kaptainkk says:

    @dadelus: If that’s the case, then I totally agree death should win hands down. I haven’t heard of death mentioned in an ad but I suspect they are saying if you take this medicine like you are supposed to, you could die…geeze!! By then they will have made their billions and it won’t matter anymore. BTW, anal leakage is just such a disgusting thought…

  55. Dakine says:

    “…. Please consult your doctor if you experience complications due to spontaneous death.”

  56. lua21 says:

    Oh shoot, I don’t know what drug it was for, it was one of the one’s for Restless Leg Syndrome, and some of the side effects were increased sex drive and an urge to gamble. By far the weirdest I have heard since moving to the US.

  57. ARP says:

    Heparin- Diarrhea associated with fainting. I still laugh out loud every time I think about it (I’m so low brow).

  58. mantari says:

    Anal leakage, FTW!

  59. Dakine says:

    I also saw one that said it may cause blindness. Can’t remember which one, but those kinds of ads make sit in dumbfounded wonder…. who the hell is so desperate for a cholesteral pill or anti-depressant or something that they’re like, “okay, let’s do it… I’ll risk going blind.”

  60. GothamGal says:


    This is no joke! A male friend had this problem and had to continue drinking water because the need to go to the bathroom was the only thing that brought it down.

    Glad I could share.

  61. jamesdenver says:


    Well – maybe they just didn’t want this guy to file a suit:


  62. Dakine says:

    Yeah, the restless leg one with the “gambling” side effect slays me too. I keep waiting for one to say, “May increase gambling, cause you to associate with dubious characters, rob liquor stores, and drive like a madman.”

  63. EyeHeartPie says:

    I always wondered how they could tell what was the original symptom and what is a side effect. Especially if you take Tylenol for a headache, and one of the side-effects is headache. How do you know that the headache is a side effect? Maybe it was the original effect.

    Anyways, I like the side effects to Pepto Bismol.

    Anxiety; any loss of hearing; confusion; constipation (severe); diarrhea (severe or continuing); difficulty in speaking or slurred speech; dizziness or lightheadedness; drowsiness (severe); fast or deep breathing; headache (severe or continuing); increased sweating; increased thirst; mental depression; muscle spasms (especially of face, neck, and back); muscle weakness; nausea or vomiting (severe or continuing); ringing or buzzing in ears (continuing); stomach pain (severe or continuing); trembling; uncontrollable flapping movements of the hands (especially in elderly patients) or other uncontrolled body movements; vision problems

    I think I’ll stick with the upset stomach…

  64. Dakine says:


    “uncontrollable flapping movements of the hands”


    sorry, but that’s funny.

  65. The_IT_Crone says:

    Anti-depressants say “may cause thoughts of depression or suicide in teenagers or young adults.” Um. Isn’t that the OPPOSITE of an anti-depressant? Does being superhapppy make you want to die?

    My other favorite is medication for GAD (General Anxiety Disorder), which is uncontrollable diarrhea and sexual dysfunction. So in order to make you HAPPIER and more RELAXED in life it’s going to make you crap yourself in public and unable to orgasm. Yes, this sounds like it would help.

  66. Blue says:


    That would be for a Womens GI medicine……….I think.

    “Side effects include Flatulence………..”

    Pretty disturbing!!!!

  67. Nick1693 says:

    One word: Annuale


  68. Tankueray says:

    There are quite a few medications out there that cause seizures. I was on two medications that caused long QT syndrome (together). A coworker was on Cymbalta (maybe, it was some anti-depressant) and she nearly went blind. Her eye prescription has been upped three times in as many months and she’s going to see a neuro-opthamologist tomorrow. And the Dr. put her on something new that’s in the same family!

  69. Dakine says:

    This is the actual side effect list from a drug I had to take for 2 years:

    Dizziness — in up to 54 percent of people
    Double vision — up to 49 percent
    Headaches — up to 29 percent
    Coordination problems — up to 28 percent
    Blurred vision — up to 25 percent
    Nausea — up to 25 percent
    Vomiting — up to 20 percent.
    Irritated or runny nose
    Sore throat
    Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
    Shakiness (tremor)
    Back pain
    Flu-like symptoms (such as body aches or chills)
    Indigestion or heartburn
    Painful menstrual cramps
    Dry mouth
    Painful menstrual cramps
    Chest pain
    Weight loss
    Worsening of seizures
    Depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts
    Unusual bruising or bleeding
    Liver damage, such as yellow eyes or skin (jaundice)
    Severe muscle pain
    Frequent infections
    Dangerous allergic reactions
    Hives or any rash
    Swollen lymph nodes (swollen “glands”)
    Painful sores in or around the mouth or eyes
    Swelling of the lips or tongue
    Suicidal thinking or behavior
    Vaginal infection or irritation
    Speech problems
    Bladder infection (urinary tract infection or UTI)
    Concentration problems
    Joint pain
    Loss of appetite
    Neck pain
    Sinus infection
    Sensitivity to the sun
    A spinning sensation (vertigo)
    Memory loss (amnesia)
    Increased sex drive
    Bloody nose
    Dry skin
    Migraine headaches
    Weight gain

    But the worst of all is this: Stevens-Johnson syndrome

    See here: []
    WARNING!! Graphic photos of S-J syndrome. Not for the weak stomach.

    Thank god I got off this stuff without anything more than a little weight gain.

  70. @t325: I saw that commercial… or one that is just the same… I don’t like it, it makes it even harder to catch the side effects I think, because we are all trained by now to ignore what the people on the screen are doing, and we listen for the side effect list instead. With this commercial the side effects just sort of blur into that part of commercials we ignore../ it’s almost like they want to be sneaky or something about it.

  71. jst07 says:

    I forget the drug, but my girlfriend once had to take something to reduce inflamation in her shoulder from volleyball, and on the side effects it listed:

    may cause shoulder aches

  72. SacraBos says:

    I think olestra changed it from the original “rectal seepage”, to “anal leakage”, and now they just say “loose stools”. Leave it to the marketroids to try to make rampant skidmarks sound as nice as possible.

  73. Side effect for Tagamet – dreams about snakes. (My partner’s dad had this problem … nightly dreams about snakes. One of the really rare side effects, apparently.)

  74. xnihilx says:

    I was prescribed Tessalon Perles when I had bronchitis (they rock btw for stopping couch) one of the side effects “may cause hallucinations.” Fortunately (Unfortunately???) I didn’t have any.

  75. @BeFrugalNotCheap: You and bloggy beat me to it! I’m glad you guys figured out which drug it was. That was a good one.

  76. MyPetFly says:

    @Dakine: >>>>>Oh shoot, I don’t know what drug it was for, it was one of the one’s for Restless Leg Syndrome, and some of the side effects were increased sex drive…

    Wouldn’t that result in RLHS — Restless Leg Humping Syndrome?

  77. Dakine says:

    @scarletvirtue – plays well with scissors:

    Another Tagamet effect: vomit that looks like coffee grounds.

  78. MyPetFly says:

    @Dakine: That would be partially-digested blood, seriously.

  79. chenry says:


  80. SinisterMatt says:

    I vote for any that list death. My wife and I always get a good laugh out of the Requip one. “If you take this, you may have an increase in gambling urges.” Indeed. Don’t give it to those in Vegas!

    On that note, it’s not for a medicine (exactly), but I saw this ad once that said, “if you or a loved one has suffered death or injury from (a Merck drug), then call the law offices of such and such…” LOL!


  81. Dakine says:

    Propecia has a side effect called “gynecomastia”. In other words, Man-boobs.

    Accutane has hepatitis, psychosis and hirsutism (an overabundance of hair) to offer. Also crying spells, rectal bleeding and bone fractures.

    Levaquin can kill your ability to deal with sunlight. “Phototoxicity” which is rapid, second-degree sunburns. Also ruptured tendons which will require surgery.

  82. leprofie says:

    I love how you say email the suggestions to and everyone puts them in the comments. No wonder people get bad customer service, they can’t follow directions.

  83. @BloggyMcBlogBlog: Word! Lemme see… the treatment for my legs triggers something in my brain that makes me want to gamble… that makes perfect sense.

  84. ludwigk says:

    @arniec: There are many drugs which have undergone clinical trials, passed FDA approval, and whose mechanism is not really understood.

    For instance, one of my favorites, Modafinil, which is like chemical replacement for sleep, falls into this category.

  85. RandomHookup says:

    @AlteredBeast: Please for God’s sake, never use “cake” and “anal leakage” in the same sentence.

  86. MyPetFly says:

    @ludwigk: >>>>>chemical replacement for sleep

    Wouldn’t that be called meth? : )

  87. Dave-O says:

    I don’t remember what it was for, but I always liked…

    “May cause sudden bowl movements and the inability to control those bowl movements.”

    i.e. it makes you S**T in your pants.

  88. LordieLordie says:

    the one that really got me is “seepage” and “wear dark clothes”.. eeew..

    For a fat blocking diet drug (can’t remember the name)

  89. Dakine says:


    Alli is the one that causes the shit seepage.

  90. matt314159 says:

    ABILIFY: It Might KILL YOU, but your bipolar mania will be lessened.

    + Watch video

    When using abilify, call your doctor if you have high fever, stiff muscles, and confusion, as these may be signs of a life-threatening reaction. Or if you have muscle movements that cannot be stopped, as these could become permanent. High blood sugar has been reported with some people taking abilify. In extreme cases, this can lead to coma or death. Your doctor should monitor your blood sugar if you have, or are at risk for diabetes. Elderly people with dementia should not take abilify due to an increased risk of death or stroke. Some people feel faint, or dizzy upon standing, Other risks include impaired judgement or motor skills. And trouble swallowing.

  91. puka_pai says:

    Paxil used to advise it had “injury” as a side effect. Nothing more specific. I asked a psychiatrist I knew what that meant, and she had no idea. She asked the Glaxo rep and HE had no idea. Perhaps it was just a CYA move on their part, I dunno.

  92. clank-o-tron says:

    @arniec: My personal favorite is “The way Veramyst works is not entirely understood.”

    I’m so glad that you wrote that. I’m the only one of my friends who has seen that ad and they swear I’m making it up. And lol @ the idea of it being a magic potion. I liked to think it was the egg of some weird parasite that ‘cured’ the ailment, and then 20 years later would come bursting out of your chest like a facehugger.

  93. sashazur says:

    An important subtext in all these amusing lists is this: before you start taking a new, heavily hyped medicine with exotic side effects, ask your doctor if there may be an older (and likely cheaper) drug that does the same thing. Doctors may like to prescribe new and popular drugs because the drug companies push them and patients ask for them (because they’re on TV), but the longer a drug has been in use, the better understood it is, and the more likely that its effects and side effects are well understood.

  94. howie_in_az says:

    @bobpence: Why would you be assigning boolValue to TRUE or FALSE in your if() block? ;)

    I guess the funniest one I can think of is for some help-you-to-pee drug — one of the side effects is a runny nose. That always cracks me up.

  95. Kirk Douglas says:

    “Death” is a popular one for many. :|

  96. sickofthis says:

    @BloggyMcBlogBlog: Yeah, that’s my favorite.

  97. bohemian says:

    The one that just slays me is Lyrica. They are currently pushing it to treat Fibromyalgia. The primary symptoms of Fibromyalgia is muscle pain, joint pain, fatigue, memory issues.

    Main side effects of Lyrica are:
    joint or muscle pain.
    dizziness or drowsiness
    problems with memory or concentration

    I talked to someone who participated in the FDA study for Lyrica & Fibromyalgia. Someone hung themselves in the exam room during the study. Yes, suicide risk is one of the side effects, they went back and listed it recently.

  98. punkrawka says:

    Similar to “anal leakage” is “oily discharge.” Eww.

  99. ScarletBegonias says:

    the one sleep aid commercial, for ambien perhaps, says that ” swelling of tongue and throat may occur” and i dont know about any of you, but if im taking a medicine that puts me to sleep i would rather it not cut off my breathing as well.

  100. Zimorodok says:

    I’m going to have to go with:

    “>The Condition known as Hot-Dog Fingers.

  101. Zimorodok says:

    (Ugh, broken tags.)

    …as seen in:

  102. akalish says:

    This is, hands down, the most hilarious set of comments I’ve ever seen on any posting on this site. (Chortle, chortle, chortle). :D

  103. TangDrinker says:

    Motilium (domperidone).

    This drug is no longer approved for use in the US of A, but those with low supply issues know where to get it.

    Galactorrhoea is “milky secretion from the breast.” The drug is used to move the contents of your stomach through it quicker (to help quell nausea), but the side effects of increased lactation are probably not something you’d want, unless you’re trying to breastfeed with extremely low supply.

    It works, by the way.

    “The most frequent reactions to Motilium are those related to elevated prolactin levels including breast tenderness, galactorrhoea, gynaecomastia and amenorrhoea. These effects are dose-related and gradually resolve after lowering the dose or discontinuing treatment.”

    The other drug that is approved for treating low supply, Reglan, has a major side effect – Depression. Not something a new mother needs.

  104. jdmba says:

    I recently saw a commercial where one of the side effects was that the pill actually gave you Lymphoma.

    I was previously unaware you could ‘catch’ cancer from a pill.

  105. Fezzik says:

    I will always remember the one that said “May cause Wet Stool and Uncontrollable bowel movements…”

  106. ovalseven says:

    A side effect of diet drug, Alli:

    “Gas with an oily anal discharge”

    Ask your doctor if The Consumerist is right for you.

  107. satoru says:

    @clank-o-tron: This kind of thing is common usually in drugs that deal with your psychology. Most anti-depressants have this especially the SSRI ones because in theory they work by elevating your seratonin levels. But theoretically this should have an almost instantaneous effect on your mood, but in reality it takes months for it to really kick in. Thus they know the drug helps with depression, but the mechanism is still a bit fuzzy because it seems like kicking seratonin into high gear seems to only be step 1 of 20 that needs to happen.

  108. dolphswim3 says:


    I’ve seen the same one – I think one of the other side effects is death. It’s a commercial where they are inter-tubing in the ocean, and the voice over goes through these awful side effects.

  109. Dakine says:

    Combinations can be bad too when docs start prescribing stuff to counteract the side effects of other stuff they shouldn’t have prescribed in the first place.

    I was put on Paxil for anxiety at one point. Paxil can bring you: anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia (severe restlessness), and finally, insanity.

    This was later supplemented with Wellbutrin. That was the one that pushed me over the edge. Or maybe it was the combo. But basically, the world split in two, the two halves shifting apart a little bit, and tilted 45 degrees to the right. And stayed that way. Was crazy trying to walk in a straight line.

    But Paxil and these other drugs are things that you can’t just quit no matter how much you may want to. I tried. I was in agony for a week, and finally on my knees on the kitchen floor calling the doc before i finally had to go back on it and ween down for two months.

    Dangerous stuff out there. What ever happened to good ol’ Valium?

    But at least there’s no uncontrollable crapping with that stuff. That would have been horrible.

  110. FDCPAGuy says:

    Alli FTW

    From []
    Such effects may include oily spotting, loose stools, and more frequent stools that may be hard to control.

  111. alice_bunnie says:

    From that linked cracked article…

    My doctor knew I was going on a cruise and that I already sometimes got hives when I went out in the sun, but he put me on Levaquin for bronchitis and a sinus infection. He didn’t tell me anything about phototoxicity! When I got out there and started to blister, I didn’t understand what the heck was going on! I had to wear long sleeved shirts and wrap my legs in towels for the whole cruise otherwise I looked like a leper!

  112. Zabella says:

    Ambien is sold as stinox in Australia, how about a leg amputation? Or jumpping off a balcony?

    These all sound fun but the wosrt that I have had is waking up in a bed full of melted chocolate in a psych hospital. Stilnox anyone?

  113. Phexerian says:


    For the parody drug “Lesebrex” which is a take off on Celebrex.

    Tired of being a dike?! TRY LESEBREX!

    Its sad that I am a pharmacy student and cant think of more but quite honestly, I don’t pay attention to drug commercials when I see them. Get tired of them and their sleezy nature.

    -3rd Year PharmD/MBA Candidate

  114. thesabre says:

    I get a kick out of medications that have your current symptom as a side effect. Like upset stomach as a side effect of Pepto Bismol. I believe a common acetaminophen product, or something similar, lists headaches as a side effect.

    I do recall a enlarged prostate medication having the side effect “may experience the desire to dress up like a woman and sing ‘If I were a rich girl’ spontaenously.”

    Ok. I lied about that one.

  115. Hayden1028 says:

    I couldn’t find the exact quote for the Celebrex commercial I saw, but it was along the lines of;

    “Celebrex, like all other NSAIDS, can cause serious intestinal problems, such as ulcers, or internal bleeding, which may cause sudden death.”

  116. Dakine says:

    Cough syrup:

    Small doses help suppress coughing, but larger doses can cause fever, confusion, impaired judgment, blurred vision, dizziness, paranoia, excessive sweating, slurred speech, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, headache, lethargy, numbness of fingers and toes, redness of face, dry and itchy skin, loss of consciousness, seizures, brain damage, and even death.

  117. laurahatesu says:

    The depression medicines that warn of erectile dysfunction … “I can’t get a boner, but I don’t care!!”

  118. bohemian says:

    @jdmba: Yes, Enbril can give you cancer.

  119. Dakine says:

    seizures, brain damage, and death… from cough syrup. I was just drinking some of that last week. I failed to read the warning until today.

  120. Illiterati says:

    I confess to “sleep-online-shopping with amnesia” several times while on Ambien. Urban Outfitters is apparently a favorite haunt of my Ambien-addled brain, because I’ve received several deliveries of UO products with either very little or absolutely no memory of ordering them. At least I was sensible enough to restrict my shopping to the sale items. I’m cheap even asleep!

  121. Dakine says:

    Trazodone (otherwise known as Desyrel):

    (it’s an anti-depressant)

    Among the laundry list of side effects, these are some of the more interesting ones…. hallucinations,
    irregular heartbeat,
    painful erections,
    uncontrollable laughter,
    and suicide.

    Good stuff man.

  122. jonlem says:

    I heard this one on the radio quite a few years ago on the radio. I believe they were hocking some disgustingly unhealthy diet pill of one sort or another. Although my memory fails in regards to the product I will never forget the side effect.

    “May cause gas with oily discharge.”

  123. puka_pai says:


    uncontrollable laughter,
    and suicide.

    Love that Joker!

  124. donovanr says:

    I once was reading that big book that lists all the drugs made and one drug listed “may cause sudden and/or unexpected death”.
    What drug would be prescribed that would cause “expected death”? (excepting death row stuff)

  125. Topsyjane says:

    @Zabella: Oi!

    I feel like Ambien is missing out on a marketing hook by not saying “Ambien CR – The CR stands for Can’t Remember”

  126. mikelotus says:

    @cpalifer: that’s disturbing? happens to me all the time with no drugs. doesn’t it with everyone else?

  127. GamblesAC2 says:

    This says it all

    + Watch video

  128. scerwup says:

    Increased gambling or sexual urges. I don’t remember the exact medication, but I do remember that it was an allergy medication.

    Also, eating or driving while asleep with no memory of the actions is a great one as well.

  129. gonz says:

    @Dakine: To that long list.
    Strange, that those side effects of meds are the same for me for my past experiences of sex and work.

  130. luz says:

    The reason anti-depressants may cause suicide is that unipolar depression is characterized by sheer lack of energy, whereas bipolar disorder, obviously, involves periods of mania.

    In other words, there are people who are depressed but don’t want to kill themselves, and then people who want to kill themselves but simply lack the energy.

    These people should not be on the anti-depressants that make you, uh, bouncy.

  131. mmstk101 says:

    losing your sense of taste is an odd possible side effect (i think it’s for high-blood pressure medication).

    Panic attacks and excessive sweating are another couple of possible side-effects from an antidepressant.

  132. aka Cat says:

    The funniest/weirdest side effect I’ve ever had was “increase in unexplained yawning”.

    Seriously. And it was at the bottom of the side effect list, with something like .2% chance of it.

    But it stopped when I switched to the generic.

  133. danno99 says:

    If you had an erection for more than 4 hours and went to see a doctor, what would he do for you? Force you to watch reruns of Rosanne?

  134. rickhamilton620 says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I can just imagine someone thinking about this. “hmm, clear skin or dementia…okay sounds like a fair trade off-I’ll do it!”

    @jdmba: LMAO “not appropiate for women” “seeing the dead” X)

  135. CrazyNyceDave says:

    “A condition known as ‘Hot Dog Fingers'”

    “Seeing the Dead.”

  136. Werrick says:

    Anal leakage, numbness and temporary blindness.

    Great… so now I’m leaking out my ass, I can’t feel it and even if I manage to detect my rectal effluence by way of smell or because I somehow heard my bum being squishy I can’t see well enough to even clean myself up.

  137. Werrick says:


    You don’t want to know… it involves a syringe…

    I don’t wanna talk about this anymore.

  138. jeffjco says:


    They never say blindness though. They always say something like “If you experience a sudden loss or decrease in vision” at the super-fast announcer speed so you don’t quite catch that they’re saying blindness.

  139. anonairman says:

    From Wikipedia: “Mefloquine frequently produces side effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and dizziness. Several associations with neurological events have been made, namely affective and anxiety disorders, hallucinations, sleep disturbances, psychosis, toxic encephalopathy, convulsions and delirium. Cardiovascular effects have been recorded with bradycardia and sinus arrhythmia being consistently recorded in 68% of patients treated with Mefloquine (in one hospital-based study).”

    Great! This is the crap I took in Iraq… and I thought all the pretty colors I was seeing was just dehydration.

  140. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Jmatthew: You’re thinking of Lamisil:


    Many patients have asked if prescription medications are safe. The two most popular prescription medications are Sporanox capsules and Lamisil tablets. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health advisory in May 2001 concerning Sporanox (itraconazole) capsules and Lamisil (terbinafine hydrochloride) tablets for the treatment of nail fungus. The FDA concluded that there is strong evidence of congestive heart failure and hepatic adverse events with the administration of these therapies. Hepatic toxicity includes liver failure and death.

  141. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    who the hell is so desperate for a cholesteral pill or anti-depressant or something that they’re like, “okay, let’s do it… I’ll risk going blind.”

    @Dakine: Anyone who’s cholesterol or depression is so severe that it might result in death (suicide for the depression) and other meds haven’t worked.

  142. ShadowFalls says:

    How about may result in a weakened immune system and death? Some drug for Psoriasis I saw on tv.


    You have a good point here. The side effects of Lyrica seems counterproductive here… It certainly doesn’t do anything for the condition.

  143. quirkyrachel says:

    You forgot the one that warns you might have sex while asleep, and not remember :)

  144. OnceWasCool says:

    Lipitor is Constipation and Gas. Feels like someone filled you up with air and stuck in a cork.

    ZITHROMAX (Zpack Antibiotic)

    seek emergency medical attention: an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives); or liver damage (yellowing of the skin or eyes, nausea, abdominal pain or discomfort, unusual bleeding or bruising, severe fatigue). Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take Zithromax and talk to your doctor if you experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain; unusual dizziness, fatigue, or headache; vaginal yeast infection; a rash; or increased sensitivity to sunlight. Side effects other than those listed here may also occur.

  145. Hedonista says:

    Some are confusing side effects with adverse effects.

    Here is an adverse effect of Lamictal:

    Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis: Sort of like flesh eating bacteria, but without the bacteria and it can effect the entire body. It is deadly.

  146. What about the Restless Leg Syndrome side effects of “may cause compulsive gambling or sexual addiction”.

  147. booksy says:

    I remember pointing that out to my wife, and it’s not just death it’s all the other side effects are pretty nasty to. You might as well just give them some anthrax for the bi-polar disorder.

  148. Sidecutter says:

    I always like the social anxiety drug that had side effects like nauseo, diarreah, vomiting. I think it was Paxil? Had the happy blob thing that was all sad and morose and anxious about being around others socially.

    Seriously, I can buy a fifth of cheap vodka, and get the same side effects, and the same loss of anxiety about social situations, for far less.

  149. Dakine says:

    I personally think most of these drugs out now do much more harm than good. The only ones I have any confidence in are Tylenol (for headaches and minor pains), baking soda for heartburn (but not a drug), Vicodin (for hardcore pain or dental work pain), (and definitely a limited amount even though it’s yummy, cuz Vicodin has it’s own drawbacks), and that’s pretty much all I ever ingest anymore. And of course, anesthetics when you need them like Lidocaine or whatever if you gotta get stitched up. (recently took a chainsaw in the knee and had to get stitches… was glad for the Lido.)

  150. Sasquatch says:

    I think my favorite would have to be for some sleep-aid (I think it was Lunesta). One of the side-effects they mentioned was “next day drowsiness.” C’mon now.

  151. Clutch414 says:

    Priapism. Hands down.

  152. TamiBB says:

    The only thing more disturbing than the tendency of people to diagnose themselves based on the drug commercials is the following statement from my doctor last month:

    “I was watching tv last week and a commercial came on for a drug and I thought of you. Maybe you should try it.”

    Cool – my doctor and I get our information from the same source!

  153. Vicky says:

    Lamictal can cause toxic epidermal necrolysis, which (from Wikipedia) “is characterized by the detachment of the top layer of skin (the epidermis) from the lower layers of the skin (the dermis) all over the body.” It causes skin loss on the same scale as a major burn and causes blisters on all major mucous membranes, including the eyes.

  154. Vicky says:

    @Hedonista: I just saw your comment. Agreed, adverse effects and side effects are not the same.

  155. Mary says:

    I vote for the one asthma drug that increases your chance of asthma related death. Why exactly would you treat the problem with something that could make you die from the problem?

    “I see you have headaches. Well, we can drill a hole in your head to relieve the pressure, but it could kill you. Which do you want to try?”

  156. Possible side effects of Heparin:

    vomit that looks like coffee grounds

    no joke

  157. SpdRacer says:

    @BloggyMcBlogBlog: That is by far my favorite side effect, who doesn’t want to experience an increased desire to gamble.

  158. MPHinPgh says:

    @billbillbillbill: Seconded!

    (or thirded or fourthed)…

  159. Isn’t death the worst by default?

  160. multiplyfunction says:

    @Shutaro: the Red Death?

  161. Teleolurian says:

    I just took some Ambien last night. I woke up not really sure what I did after I got home from work (6 hours before taking it).

    Ambien is PWESOME.

  162. Bix says:


    “When an allergen enters your body, it sets a chain reaction in motion as your immune system releases a stream of chemicals that leads to allergy symptoms.

    VERAMYST works on a whole range of chemicals that lead to your allergy symptoms.*

    *The way VERAMYST works is not fully understood.”


  163. luz says:

    @Teleolurian: People who take Ambien not only drive but often go clubbing, have entire conversations and (this has happened to several different guy friends of mine) initiate sex in their sleep, then wake up and claim they were raped.

    Once again I’ll stick with a hot toddy…

  164. QuartilaKaplah says:

    I was on a cancer drug in the early ’80s, one of the possible side effects
    is “sudden death”. L-asparaginase given IM.

    All Good People Are Asleep and Dreaming

  165. pillow_fight_girl says:

    I had a friend that took the sleep aid Lunesta (is that the one with the butterfly?) and said that she had this horrible metallic taste in her mouth for days. It was so bad, that it kept her awake! Later we looked through the looong list of side effects and there it was:

    Anxiety; decrease in sexual desire; difficulty with coordination; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth; headache; indigestion; lightheadedness; nausea; nervousness; unpleasant taste; vomiting.

    Oh, and here’s some more Lunesta fun:

    Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); aggressive behavior; breast growth; chest pain; confusion; depression; hallucinations; memory problems (such as amnesia); painful menstrual periods; seizures; severe mood swings; suicidal thoughts; swelling of hands or feet; symptoms of infection (eg, fever, sore throat, and sinus or chest congestion); unusual or disturbing thoughts.

    BREAST GROWTH?! I’d rather just stay up.

  166. Dakine says:

    Side effects may include…

    painful rectal itch
    lung cancer
    mental retardation
    brain tumors
    enlargement of the ears
    permanent sleeplessness
    internal bleeding
    bone weakening
    tooth loss
    inability to speak
    homicidal thoughts
    inability to breathe
    uncontrollable twitching
    formation of a back hump
    rapid growth of a vestigial tail

    Please consult your doctor if you experience runny nose.

  167. scerwup says:

    @InfiniTrent: Yes that’s the one I was thinking of. :)

  168. Drowner says:

    There’s some commercial for an asthma medication that always frightens me just because when it comes on, I can go take a pee and grab a snack and when I come back it’s still rattling off side effects and warnings. It’s the one that’s all in blue and the woman’s in black shadow. Anyone?

  169. gliscameria says:

    My personal favotite was on a motion sickness patch that had scopolamine (zombie drug) in it…

    blurry vision, double vision, dialated pupil(s), hallucinations, delerium, dizziness, rambling… basically good times.

    It was neat because if you put it behind one ear the opposite pupil would dialate all to hell.

    These are the side-effects when you stop using the patch…

    Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, and poor coordination… so basically you just delay the sickness.

  170. mikeunwired says:

    My wife was looking at a drug for some ailment and a side effect was…


    That’s a kinder and genteler way of saying DEATH.

  171. gruffydd says:

    @qitaana: That’s what I was going to say!

  172. Razorgirl says:

    Haven’t had time to find the ad yet, but I think my current fave (other than Alli, which will always be #1 for sheer terror) is Abilify. Something along the lines of “Consult your doctor if you experience uncontrollable muscle spasms, as they may become permanent”. The commercial just makes me twitch.

  173. JohnMc says:

    Forget the side effects!!! I want the answer to the most riddled question in a drug commercial — What the HELL are those damn tubs supposed to mean in the Cialis commercials!!

  174. luz says:

    I want to marry this thread. News item: Everyone on Consumerist comments suddenly funny and nice

  175. ringo00 says:

    A friend of mine in high school had prescription acne cream that listed a skin rash as a possible side effect.

  176. Marce says:

    “Driving while not awake? With amnesia? Neat!”

    People need drugs to do this? My dad did it when I was a kid.

  177. 00447447 says:

    “May cause you to piss tiny spiny robo-crabs”

  178. MerisGanji says:

    I think that is the way drug companies give you a placebo that could
    possibly kill you and has an equally likely chance of stopping what is
    ailing you in the first place…

  179. ryaninc says:

    So did the top 10 list ever get official? I was looking forward to it. :-)

  180. Sharikitten says:

    I’ve had a lot of weird drug side affects, but here’s the weirdest for me: When my 1 year old was born, the nurses in the maternity ward gave me 2 ambien to try to get me to rest before I was to have labor induced the next morning. Unfortunately, less than an hour later, just as the drug was taking full effect, my water broke naturally and within another hour I “sleep gave birth”. I don’t remember any of it, the pain, getting an epidural, talking to the nurses, holding my daughter for the first time, or getting up and walking to the recovery room… my memories begin the next day. My husband says I was conscious and calm, if not entirely cooperative, during the labor.