The Seven Terrifying Side Effects of Useful Drugs

  • June 25, 2010
  • 53,355
  • Science
  • Image Sources



Well, we're back to the antibiotics, again. You know, for a class of drugs that have saved countless lives, destroyed horrible diseases like smallpox, and generally have improved the quality of human life, these things are really pretty horrible. And doxycycline kind of takes the cake.

You see, doxycycline gives you sores. Where you don't want sores. Yes, we know nobody wants sores anywhere, but this is where you REALLY don't want sores. Like, in your bathing suit area.


Little Tommy and Sally enjoy swimming and petting their puppy. Unrelated.

What's ironic is that doxycycline is generally used to treat venereal diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia, so, essentially, you've got a choice of sores caused by horrible diseases that, left unchecked, can really scramble your eggs, or sores caused by the drug keeping the disease from doing just that. So you're kind of shafted no matter which choice you make!

We research this for you, you know. The least you could do is stop screaming in horror long enough to thank us.



It's no secret that getting old really kind of blows. Your body changes. Your sleep schedule goes drastically awry. You get sick more easily. It becomes much harder to pick up young attractive people unless you're very, very rich. Also, you'll probably get some sort of inflammatory disease you have to take care of, and you usually do that with an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like naproxen sodium.

NSAIDs are actually kind of awesome as anti-inflammatory drugs go. Your option before they were discovered was steroids, which could screw up your immune system and basically ruin your life in the name of letting you move about with a little less pain. So we should thank our lucky stars for NSAIDs.

On the other hand, it's probably just a little disconcerting to wake up, go to the bathroom, take your morning deuce, and then look in the mirror and realize you have blue lips and fingernails. But back on the original hand, you can actually move. So it's a good trade-off.


Young David only turns blue when he’s been eating a delicious Popsicle. Isn’t that nice?



Another side effect, if you're getting old and are a woman, is hot flashes thanks to menopause. Unlike male menopause, which consists of macking on hot chicks and buying a sports car, female menopause is an unpleasant, annoying experience where a woman's hormones reconfigure in one last punch to the crotch courtesy of Mother Nature. And hot flashes are, of course, highly unpleasant. So you can take EvaMist for them and everything will be OK.

Oh, by the way, this is a mist full of estrogen hormones. The full list of side-effects takes up two pages and includes such cuddly results as hypothyroidism, hypertriglyceridemia (with that many syllables, don't ask), hypocalcemia, gallbladder disease, dementia, heart attacks and cancer.


Nothing related to the ravages of age here!

Yes, we said cancer. In the name of preventing you from feeling way too warm, this drug could give you freaking cancer as a side effect. We're thinking the marketing meeting went something like this:

Scientist: "We can't take this to market, it causes cancer!" Pharma Exec: "So, this drug prevents hot flashes?" "Yes, but it causes cancer!" "But it prevents hot flashes." "CANCER! C-A-N-C-E-R!" "Call legal, tell them to mention cancer as a side effect. OK, let's start selling." If you'll excuse us, we'll be busy taking Ambien. It'll either knock us out or make us hallucinate and we like those odds. Written by Dan Seitz – Copyrighted © Image Sources

Image sources:

  • - Polytrim:
  • - Other Antibiotics:
  • - Retrovir, Zerit, and protease inhibitors:
  • - Propecia:
  • - Doxycycline:
  • - Naproxen:
  • - EvaMist: