FDA Protects Him From Protecting Himself From Diarrhea -- And Me From Protecting Myself Against Serious Motion Sickness
I get carsick from my own driving. Even from driving five miles.
I also get carsick from driving with others. Even if I use the Scopolamine patch, which is expensive and makes me drowsy and basically feel weird.
There's a drug -- a benign drug called betahistine (Serc) -- that a friend in Paris took when she suffered briefly from vertigo.
The FDA found the tests on it not very good, contends that it has little therapeutic effect, and won't allow it to be sold here.
The thing is -- as I discuss with an epidemiologist who talks to me about study methodology -- there are individual differences, and Serc does work for some people, including me. It's probably the histamine form in it that blocks something malfunctioning or overfunctioning in my vestibular system.
The author also uses Betahistine to treat severe motion intolerance (e.g. Matsnev and Sigaleva, 2007).
It's inexpensive, works for some people, has very few side-effects (none, really, in me for occasional use) and it doesn't make you drowsy, which is miraculous and wonderful. (And no, this isn't a placebo effect -- I expected it not to work, much like the patch, which I was surprised didn't entirely work -- meaning I can't get to Santa Barbara from Venice by car without feeling somewhat sick the entire weekend.)
It isn't a complete cure-all. If we go downtown from Venice, I might be a little carsick when we get there, but I won't need to go lie down on the rug of people we're visiting and sleep the whole time. Or toss my cookies and remain dizzy and sick for two days, like I did when I couldn't make it across town to Mozza (fab gourmet Italian restaurant) for a think tank dinner I was invited to.
Still, this drug is nothing short of miraculous for me.
I found this out when I -- miserable from the Mozza experience and others -- decided to take a chance and order Serc off eBay from a seller in Thailand. I used to produce commercials, right out of college, and I had to make what are called "color-corrected packages" -- replicas of the package for TV. I looked at the price on eBay --$19.99 for maybe 24 pills -- and decided that it probably wouldn't be worth it for them to fake the packages.
So, I have a fantastic solution for motion sickness, but eBay keeps banning the sellers, so I have a connection in Romania now who will sell them to me without eBay in the equation. We don't make the mistake economist Alex Tabarrok did with his diarrhea medicine. He writes at Marginal Revolution:
I arranged for someone to buy me some Canadian Dukoral and ship it over the border. Unfortunately, my "connect" is not as practiced in the art of evading U.S. customs as would be ideal and in a fit of regrettable honesty wrote "gift, diarrhea medicine" on the package. The ever-vigilant U.S. Customs intercepted and confiscated my package, thus saving me from the dangers of FDA-unapproved medicine. So I am out $150 (2 doses) and will be less than fully protected on my trip.
And I absolutely agree with him here:
It has long been my position that if a medical drug or device has been approved in another developed country then it ought to be approved in the United States. If it's good enough for the Canadians then it's good enough for me.
This is called "drug reciprocity."
Oh, and fuck you, FDA, from only barring the French sunblock, Anthelios, to be sold here, except in what I now see is a less effective form (XS instead of XL -- which is the kind with the Mexoryl, the really effective ingredient in it). I've bought this by the caseful in Paris, and just bought more in Vancouver when I was there -- the effective kind that Europeans have been using for decades without dropping dead. As a reviewer on Amazon writes:
Before you buy, just know this: All the raves for Anthelios (which started in the mid-to-late 90's) originally were for the *European* version, which contains Mexoryl, a patented UVA blocker with proven track record in EU and Canada. Mexoryl is highly stable; it does not degrade after hours of sun exposure, rendering the "reapplication" part of sunscreen nearly moot. L'Oreal was the one to patent and develop Mexoryl, which is why it's only found in L'oreal brands outside of the US. In the late 90s and early 2000's everyone was buying Anthelios from European or Canadian sites. Coasting on this word-of-mouth success, the US version was soon launched--- but without the star ingredient which is so effective.
The FDA did not approve Mexoryl as a sunscreen; Talk to anyone in cosmetic industry regulation and it's well-known that the USA is 10 years behind Europe and Asia on approving sunscreens. The list of US-approved sunscreen ingredients is very short, whereas in Europe and Asia the list is longer--- and these newer ingredients are much lighter, thinner, and more absorbent -- Another reason why EU/Asia sunscreens feel like invisible silk---and US ones tend to feel greasy/heavy.
The US version does NOT contain Mexoryl, instead it contains Avobenzone --also highly stable for many hours under the sun -- but this formula also contains Oxybenzone, a controversial ingredient (look it up). I'm not against chemical sunscreens, but I personally avoid Oxybenzone as much as I can. However, one great benefit is the milky-light texture, absorbent finish that feels weightless on skin. This is one reason why it's so popular.
If you don't care about chemical UV filters and just want an absorbent formula that works great on the face, this is a good option. But know that the Euro version is far superior, and if travelling outside the US, stock up --it's very affordable.
But hey, FDA, how great that you protect Americans from the best possible sun protection and maintain that wonderful feeling that you're powerful bureaucrats.