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Dog day afternoon

Once upon a time in a land where economies got depressed, and people got depressed because they were ‘economized’, a pharmaceutical company made a fortune selling antidepressants, which made the economists happy. But not their pets... until now.

Yes, Eli Lilly and Co have just won US Food and Drug Administration approval to sell its over-prescribed, selective serotonin-reuptake-inhibiting, drinking-water-contaminating, best-selling drug Prozac^TM^ to depressed dogs. Repackaged into a chewable, beef-flavoured pill to be called Reconcile^TM^, it is designed to treat ‘separation anxiety’. This is the medicalized term for leaving your pet alone for extended periods of time. Dogs, being very social pack animals, mysteriously can’t cope well with solitude. But now negligent dog owners the world over can rejoice. Just one happy pill with breakfast and Spot will be as happy as a lamb in Spring.

According to Lilly, ‘10.7 million, or up to 17 per cent of US dogs, suffer from separation anxiety’. But now, thanks to this great and beneficent corporation, dog owners can Reconcile^TM^ their feelings of guilt for leaving their pooch at home all day. And Lilly can Reconcile^TM^ its profit margins – since Prozac^TM^ lost its patent protection, sales of the company’s most profitable product plummeted as it lost out to generic rivals.

Seriously wonders whether this might also be the beginning of a whole new wave of exciting new pet pharmaceuticals. Maybe soon we could see acne meds for spotty leopards, or Valium^TM^ for lemurs stressed-out from deforestation of their habitat. What about Ritalin^TM^ for goldfish with attention-deficit disorder or Viagra^TM^ for underperforming pandas?

Exciting years ahead for the pharmaceutical sector in this dog-eat-dog industry.

New Internationalist issue 401 magazine cover This article is from the June 2007 issue of New Internationalist.
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