Thursday, August 05, 2010

Pharma Symptom Quiz Goes to the Dogs!

I have often criticized the "symptom quizzes" that are found on many drug.com sites for not being very useful to patients. In fact, they are more useful to marketers (see, for example "OMG! Do I Have ED or 'Low T?' Or Both?! Pharma 'Symptom Quizzes' Are NOT in the Best Interest of Patient Health!").

These tests are promoted as a way to measure your "risk" of having a medical condition such as congestive heart failure (CHF). The tests are often designed in such a way that practically everyone who completes the quiz is told they have some level of risk. For an example of how this works, see: "You Must Score Better than 84% on Viagra's Sexual Health Quiz to NOT Have Signs of ED."

Now, Boehringer Ingleheim (find out how to pronounce it here) alerted me via its @boehringerus Twitter account to a new CHF risk quiz: "Is Your Dog at Risk of CHF? Visit http://ht.ly/2lpvJ for helpful information." Yes! A CHF risk quiz for your dog!

Of course, my dog can't fill out the form (maybe some day there'll be an app for that). So, I filled it out. You can choose from a number of dog breeds or just choose the politically correct choice for "mutt," ie, "Mixed breed/None of the above," which is what I did.

For symptoms, you can choose:
  • coughing
  • lack of energy or depression
  • reluctance to go for walks
  • poor appetite
  • difficult or fast breathing
  • fainting
  • weight loss
Finally, you choose the age of your mutt, er, dog:
  • 1–6 years
  • 7–12 years
  • over 13 years
Now, my dog is pretty old -- over 13 years -- and consequently, it is not surprising that he is depressed and lacks energy. So I checked off that symptom. For the same reason he is reluctant to go for walks and I checked that off. Sometimes he has difficult or fast breathing, like when he is FORCED to go for a walk. But I didn't check that symptom. Neither did I check off any of the other dire symptoms because, frankly, if my dog had those, I would not need this silly test to know that I should bring him to the Vet, which  is EXACTLY what BI suggested I do anyway in the evaluation results, which said:
Your dog is at moderate risk of developing CHF.
Please visit your veterinarian for more information.
I must admit that I cheated :-( I do not actually have a dog. I just imagined I had one so I could take the quiz for him and see if he was at risk for CHF. If I did have a 13-year old dog, however, I would already know he is at risk for CHF. Thirteen dog years is equivalent to, what, 91 human years? What animal -- human or dog -- would NOT be at risk for CHF at 91 years of age?

It used to be that old dogs were most often given the Kevokian option of dying with dignity. Now that there are medicines for dogs that can treat conditions like CHF, will there be laws against dog euthanasia?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:44 PM

    Did I ever tell you the story about Poot, my dog? With all his leaks I should have called him BP.

    ReplyDelete