Friday, October 12, 2007

Chantix Californication Dreamin': Viagra II

In the Larry Niven science fiction story, Death by Ecstasy, a belter, Owen Jennison, is found dead on Earth in a locked Los Angeles apartment. His death is an apparent suicide. Hamilton, a friend and former crewmate of Jennison, is called to the scene to investigate. He finds Owen with a droud (a wirehead's transformer) plugged into the back of his head. The latter apparently starved himself to death while continuously stimulating the pleasure center of his own brain.

In the real world of today, there are many legal and illegal drugs and other chemical compounds that people use to stimulate their pleasure centers. One such agent is nicotine. Another is Pfizer's Chantix, a smoking cessation drug that competes with nicotine to stimulate the brain's pleasure center. In other words, Chantix takes the place of nicotine and like nicotine stimulates dopamine production, which "gives you a feeling of pleasure." This is the appeal of smoking.

Below is a page from the booklet that Pfizer sent me when I requested information about Chantix and its Quit Smoking program (see "A Pill, a Plan, a Profit? -- Chantix!"). It explains the whole thing.
Click image to enlarge and read.

What I didn't realize is that the pleasure involves vivid, memorable dreams, which is a "side effect" that Pfizer describes as "changes in dreaming."
NOTE: Pfizer should redefine the dreaming side effect as a "treatment effect" the same way that GSK calls oily fecal discharge a treatment effect of Alli (see "alli Marketer Explains Treatment Effects"). I think this would have great potential in designing new direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads (see below for more ideas about that).
In any case, my brother-in-law, who is taking Chantix to help him quit smoking, first told me about the dreams. He wouldn't tell me specifics, like what he dreamt. I found that interesting, so I decided to mine some social networks to find examples of dreams that Chantix users were reporting.

The Chantix-Hollywood Movie Star Connection
From my research, it appears that a good portion of dreams involve Hollywood movie stars like George Clooney. And there's a decidedly sexual overtone to these dreams. Now I understand why my brother-in-law would not describe his dreams in mixed company!

Here are a couple of examples of women's Chantix dreams that I found at sites like HealthBoards:

"Wow, this is just too funny. I've been dreaming of George Clooney!! Before Chantix, I don't believe that I've every dreamed of him, but for the past week he visits me every night (;"

"Lets see Sunday night which was day1 of the first week I dreamed where Hubby and I were in a hotel where the stairs changed every 3 seconds. Last night my 2nd day I dreamed Hubby and I went to Colorado and we on a rollercoaster that involved 3 mountains in a convertible. Every half mile this coaster place had people stationed at the side of the ride working on cicuit boards and they kept an eye on the people riding as well as the ride itself. One of the people keeping an eye on the ride was Chuck Norris and as Hubby and I got close to him he called out my name and asked me how I was doing. Hubby wanted to know how he knew me. Then tonight 3rd day on Chantix Hubby and I took a nap and I dreamed He, I, Bobby Flay and Flay's wife were at a dance and Bobby flirted with me. I have always had dreams but nothing like this, lol."

A Girl Can Always Dream
"I keep dreaming of Orlando Bloom. Orlando and Johnny Depp keep fighting over me. Sometimes in their pirate outfits, sometimes not. Then I had a dream that I was riding on a motcycle w/ john travolta, (i watched wild hogs that day) and Tom Cruise was the dog sitter and of coarse he was wearing his pink leather collar. Weird! Anyway, I guess the saying 'a girl can always dream' takes on a whole new meaning now."

And not just women are having these dreams. Here's one from "Nick":

"I've had them for 2 of the last 3 nights. Some humorous, and yes, like others have written - a celebrity was featured (it was just bizarre. In the dream i encountered 'The Burt Reynolds Sunglass Factory'). That one was humorous enough, i suppose."

I always thought Burt Reynolds was a man's man!

"Steve" had this dream:

"Anyone remember Valerie Bertonelli? Yeah, tv star, girlfriend to some rocker. Well last night her and I were late getting to our cruise ship. Although we were driving like mad, we could see it down below in the harbor sailing away. She was able to call someone on her phone and sure enough, it begins to turn around. When I get on board they want my ticket but of course I don't have one so they send me to the ticket window where the woman must have been confused because when I got there, she handed me a ticket and a big wad of cash!"

"Yummy!!," said Memaw, "Isn't it funny that no one is dreaming of musicians or NASCAR drivers....just movie stars?"

Yes it is, but not all Chantix dreams are about movie stars. Take Chantix and you may have dreams about your co-workers and find out about your repressed sexual urges. Take this one for example:

"Ok last night was my first night on Chantix. And the dream screwed me up for the remander of the day. I had a dream I was at a party with a bunch of my co workers. My boss was there and a few people in my division and this one guy I absolutly hate named Adam. During this party everyone was chatting it up listening to EXTREMELY loud music and drinking. Halfway throught the dream I noticed a large bay window that wasn't there during the first half. It was open and there were severl shirtless men dressed as barbarians outside around a campfire with swords and rasing them up shouting "give me a beer, give me a beer, give me a beer" As I was watching this display of manlyness someone from my team spilled a Vodak and Cranberry all over me. I found myself walking into what seemed to be a community Uni-sex bath room and undressing and getting into an open shower with 4 other people in my Office including the guy I hate more than life itself. The visual of 4 naked bodies having a water fight with the detachable shower head continued on for what seemed like forever. To say the least when I woke up I was repulsed that I could even have thought up this sort of mess but later chuckled about it through out the day. Now that I have read all of your dreams I can see I am not alone. I wonder what tonight will bring!"

Boy Oh Boy! A psychoanalyst could have a field day with these people! But what does it have to do with pharmaceutical marketing?

A few people mentioned that they would MISS Chantix when they stop taking it and one person said this:
"My dreams are awsome (sic). If someone had told me about this side effect I might have taken the drug sooner."
Viagra II?
Comments like those make me think Pfizer has a "Viagra II" in Chantix and may not realize it! The dreaming "side effect" may be more valuable than the original indication! I'd like to take Chantix just to experience the dreams and be able to remember them, which is another benefit people talk about.

Imagine if Pfizer could somehow take advantage of these patient reactions and redesign their ads with that in mind. They should hire the Rozerem ad team and do a "Your dreams miss you" campaign. But instead of featuring sexless Abe Lincoln and a beaver that no-one could have sexual fantasies about, Pfizer's new Chantix ads should have a "Californication" theme, with George Clooney or some other Hollywood hunk as the spokesperson.

Here's my vision of such an ad:

A woman says "I dreamed I quit smoking..." followed by a fade to Clooney who purrs "It doesn't have to be a dream! I quit. You can too! Meet up with me at the Chantix Support Site."

Pfizer: Please make out the check for my consultation fee to John Mack or cash. Thanks!

6 comments:

  1. Your'e doing some great stuff here, John. As an aside I suggest you go to YouTube (or to Pharma Giles, indeed) and search for "Champix" (as I did) - it seems someone is already aware of the mind-altering possibilities of it. Freaky...

    Regards, Giles...

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  2. Chuck McKay11:10 PM

    I had forgotten Death By Ecstasy. Thanks for bringing back memories of a great story.

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  3. Anonymous1:19 AM

    Actually the side effect of changes in dreaming isn't aways as good as its made out to be. I've been on chantix for about a month and a half, i have been having very vivid dreams almost every night. Only one out of them all was sexual and somewhat enjoyable. The rest were very absurd and disturbing. I am very exhausted of these dreams they seem so real and they freak me out. So please don't try to take this medicine just to have some fun dreams, because you might be like me and get nightmares instead.

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  4. John,

    I think Pfizer will be glad to make it out ;)

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  5. Anonymous12:37 PM

    I have lost a 6 year friendship due to the dreams that came to be truth for me. It was all so real. After discussing this with my doctor, a few life changes had to happen. I had to get rid of any way that I would contact this person. I did so by quit using facebook, erased his telephone number and several other things. I just want him to know, I still consider him to be a very good friend and I am so sorry and I am very embarassed, humilalated, humbling.

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