It’s been 18 years since drug companies replaced pseudoephedrine with phenylephrine to keep their cold medications available over the counter when the people waging War On Drugs(tm) decided to restrict the main ingredient in Sudafed (and what it was named after) because it could be used to make meth.

Though I remember some other decongestant plugging the idea that “unlike those medications, we chose not to change our formulation…” Yeah, because you weren’t using an ingredient that got semi-banned!

From the start, the new formulation clearly wasn’t as effective. When I found out that I could still buy the real medication as long as I asked at the pharmacy counter (and showed ID so that the DEA or whoever knows I’m not trying to get around limits by hitting every pharmacy in town), I stopped bothering with the OTC versions entirely.

I wasn’t surprised when studies showed that phenylephrine doesn’t work.

Back in 2015.

(Restricting sales of the real stuff didn’t seem to make much of a dent in the meth problem, either.)

“Only” eight years later, the FDA reached the same conclusion.

And yet the industry is complaining that “if oral phenylephrine were not available over the counter, it would be a significant burden to consumers.”


It doesn’t work. People who buy it are wasting their time and money on snake oil instead of buying a different medication that might actually do something for them. (Not that this is a problem for the supplement industry, where “not evaluated by the FDA” might as well be a selling point.)

We all ended up worse off: cold meds that don’t work, submitting to surveillance to get the meds that do work, and it didn’t even slow down the meth epidemic.

This is fascinating: Researchers looked at variations in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes of people who had confirmed cases of Covid before the vaccine rollout and also had genetic records on file.

Those with a particular variation were twice as likely to have been asymptomatic.

Having that same variation from both parents made them 8.5 times as likely to have been asymptomatic!

They looked at two more cohorts and found the same results.

And then they looked at T-cells collected before the pandemic, and found that the ones with this allele responded more actively to SARS-COV2, despite never having been exposed to it before. That lends weight to the hypothesis that some people’s immune systems were able to recognize it as similar to more run-of-the-mill coronaviruses.

Next they want to broaden the study more to include people with a wider range of ancestry.

It doesn’t come close to explaining all asymptomatic cases, and they didn’t look at how it might stack with immune responses that are actually targeted at covid (vaccines, prior infections), or whether it also reduces the chances of long-term damage from covid.

But wouldn’t it be great if someone could come up with a supplement based on what this HLA variant produces that’ll cause your immune system to generalize better? Even if it’s just within coronaviruses?

Tonight, our Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch (on DVD) is up to “Bar Association”, the episode in which Rom leads all of Quark’s employees on a strike to demand better working conditions.

I swear I didn’t time this intentionally, but it seems appropriate!

Ferengi workers don’t want to stop the exploitation. We want to find a way to become the exploiters.
— Rom, before deciding he’d rather stop the exploitation