More pharmaceutical company promotional weirdness

Very early on in this blog, I wrote a post that would forever alter its history, entitled Weird stuff doctors get from pharmaceutical representatives.

Why did this post alter the history of this (then) young blog forever?

Why, it unwittingly introduced the character that unexpectedly went on to play a large role in the development of this blog and ultimately become its de facto mascot, EneMan, of course!

But EneMan is by no means the only strange pharmaceutical company promotional product. No, not at all. In fact, I found one that may be just as strange, albeit in a very different way:

(Yes, I realize that I probably should have taken it out of its plastic bag before trying to take a picture of it to keep shine down, but if I did that then it might have lost its value as a collector's item--or we would have had to actually pop the popcorn. I'm not sure which would have been worse.)

In any case, it's exactly what you think it is: Risperdal microwave popcorn! No need for you to know how or where I found out about this lovely product, but I just have one question: Who thought it would be a good idea to label microwave popcorn with the name of an antipsychotic drug? I don't get the promotional tie-in myself. EneMan has an obvious relationship to the product he is promoting, but what does microwave popcorn have to do with schizophrenia?

Ah, well, at least the package assures us that the popcorn "contains no active drug."

Imagine my relief.


  1. OMG. I actually fell out of my chair laughing over this! ohheeheehohohaaaaaa!

  2. Hilarious. Every time you eat a tasty bag of extra buttery popcorn you'll forever have the urge to prescribe risperdal to, um, a cancer, um, patient you're, um, operating on. Or something.

  3. On the other hand, if it DID contain the product, maybe they would pretend that it didn't, so the message would be the same.

    I've had some patients who would have benefitted from Risperdal-laced popcorn, and if family members shared, so much the better.

  4. I've daid for years the world needs two new products. Antipsychotic-laced cigarettes and contraceptive beer.

  5. I've long advocated for a new formulation of multiple vitamins: One-a-Day with Fluoxetine.

  6. Well, popcorn is a "cracked" corn kernal . . .

    Voice over:
    Nobel Prize winner John Nash hears voices!
    And do you know what they're telling him?
    Pop, pop, Risperdal!
    Pop, pop, Risperdal!

    Voice over:
    That's right -- it's yummy Risperdal popcorn, with the buttery goodness you need to smooth those radical mood swings right out!
    So -- pull yourself out of that black depression, you old grumpy-puss! And, next time you're on a manic buying spree, be sure to fill your shopping cart with Risperdal brand popcorn!
    Voice of Nash:
    Hey, give me one for my imaginary friend, too!
    Chorus over:
    There's something cooking at Janssen!

  8. Ahh, see. That GM corn fiasco turned out just fine.
    - Orville Medenbacher

  9. It may be the lighting but does that look like a bag of blood to anyone else?

  10. Maybe they're branching out: in order to cut down their liability costs they've switched a portion of their production facilities to popcorn making....

  11. At least it's not Fleet making the popcorn...YEAUUGGGHHH!

  12. Does heat make Risperdal innactive, less active or more active? Just asking....

    Do they want people to thinking that people who need Risperdal are bouncing off the walls like microwave popcorn in the bag?

    The autismdiva blog quoted someone as saying,
    "We need an anti-anti-vaxer vaccine or an anti-vaxer antidote. Or a cure for contamination fears and paranoia. We'll put it in the municipal water supply." Hey, or in a popular snack.

  13. If you did that, you'd just have anti-vaxer loons starting to behave like anti-fluoridation loons (and, yes, antifluoridation loons still exist).

  14. The marketing connection between Risperdal and the popcorn is that it is a low fat, sugar free snack. When patients are first put on an atypical antipsychotic medication, there is mild to moderate weight gain. This was the pharmaceutical company's attempt to assist in better patient care. Granted, it is kind of cheesy, but it makes sense if you are educated about both the medication and the disease states that it is treating. You were so concerned in maintaining the "value" of the popcorn that you didn't take the time to make sure that you presented the entire label, which clearly shows the low fat, sugar free on it. If we are going to have educated conversations about something, let's take the time to really look at the facts and educate ourselves about what we are discussing. Rispderal is a great medication that has helped millions of people, and if their giveaways are sometimes cheesy, this is was also a relatively inexpensive one that also has direct patient benefits.

  15. Touchy, touchy.

    Really, a sense of humor (and perspective) would be helpful here. The concept is rather funny.

    And the "low fat sugar free" does show up on the picture, albeit not as much as would be ideal. Credit that to my poor photography skills. In any case, all popcorn (unless it has butter on it) is low fat and sugar free.

  16. Low fat, sugar free, yes, but the CARBS! What about the sodium?

    Once you start eating popcorn it's hard not to eat the whole bag... at least for me.

    Maybe coupons for brocolli would be better.


  17. Cheesy? They have this in Cheddar flavor too? NICE!!!

    OK, so uneducated people make corny jokes. Every joke has a kernel of truth and popping risperidone helps me to tolerate humorless stalking pharma reps always trying to butter me up, whispering in my ear, as I wander through the medical maize field. So eating popcorn fights husk. Jimmy crack corn and I don't care.

    Mr. Pericap Endosperm

  18. If we are going to have educated conversations about something, let's take the time to really look at the facts and educate ourselves about what we are discussing.

    Orac, perhaps you could recommend a good colorectal surgeon for Mr. "Anonymous" so he can have the stick removed once and for all.

  19. "Mrs." Anonymous here. . . the title to the thread is "pharmaceutical company promotional weirdness." If you know the marketing connection, it's really not that weird - it actually makes sense." So basically, this doesn't fit into the theme of your thread. I'll admit there are some pretty weird giveaways out there. . . but this isn't one of them. I have a fine sense of humor. . . when something is funny. I don't think a medication targeted at helping people with bipolar mania, schizophrenia, or serious depression is a laughing matter.

  20. It wasn't the medication that's a laughing matter. It was the tie-in. I should think the difference would be obvious.

    No offense was meant. I guess I can't please all the people all of the time.

  21. I'm thinking "Mrs. Anonymous" might profitably back up a few paces and look again at drug-corp tie-ins. Yeah, they are hilarious, more often than not. Anyway, if it's cheesy, it's hardly low-fat.

    Point two: since when are pharmatchotchkes to be given to patients? I never heard that any drug resulted in mild to moderate weight gain in the prescriber.

    I guess some might be offended at the xeroxed sign I saw posted in several spots in a multi-practice office's waiting room: Instructions to pharmacy reps, presented over a silhouette of a shark.

  22. Well, here's something interesting. Orac apologizing to someone. Maybe because it's a Mrs Anonymous.
    Next thing you know, he'll be apologizing to a Mrs. ID proponent(!).

  23. Orac (and all), I am not offended by your repertoire in the slightest. I often laugh myself at the tie ins between what representatives are supposed to give to offices and staff in order to promote their products. However, this popcorn was not truly meant to be a promotional item, designed to inspire the physician to prescribe the medication. Rather, Johnson and Johnson, parent company of Janssen Pharmaceutica, aspires to give patients the tools to better their lives. When a patient is diagnosed with a life altering disease (such as bipolar mania), and then is put on a medication that can cause weight gain, it is appropriate to counsel the patients on what to do in order to curb some of that gain. These popcorn bags were supposed to be given, along with samples, and a symptom diary, to patients. Now, sometimes, office staff does partake in the samples, giveaways, etc., offered by the pharma companies. But I believe that is the subject for another post. . .
    "Mrs." Anonymous

  24. Yo - microwave popcorn always makes me feel happy. Until about 45 minutes after I've eaten it, at which point I have dry mouth, mild nausea, and a slight headache.
    Much like anti-psychotic meds?

  25. Mrs. Anon - the fact that there is some logic - however convoluted - behind the popcorn bag gimmick does not decrease its humor value. It is still funny. Funny is when something is incongruous, surprising, or humiliating.

  26. Hilarious post, and hilarious (and highly collectible!) pharmatchotchke -- thanks for the great word, Ron Sullivan. I now have a name for my collection!


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