List of Fictional Drugs Banned By The FDA

PROFILE: Alpha blocker notably effective against Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder
BANNED BECAUSE: Banned on request of DARPA, who are trying to use epidemiology of Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder to predict the course of future conflicts. Lobbying to overturn ban by “Future Veterans of the Pakistani War” thus far ineffective.

PROFILE: A highly effective painkiller with a half-life of about twenty-four hours. Notable for its quick compensatory upregulation of pain receptors and strong rebound effect: after its effect wears off, pain typically returns twice as bad as before. This pain can generally only be controlled with a second dose of geonexperine, but when this dose is exhausted pain returns at four times its original level, which of course requires a third dose of geonexperine on humanitarian grounds, and so on.
BANNED BECAUSE: Eventually responsible for the vast majority of all human suffering.

PROFILE: Chemotherapy adjuvant specifically designed for glioblastomas of neuronal origin. By mimicking natural neural differentiation factors, it causes these tumors to regress from resilient high-grade neuroblasts towards more typical neurons, making them easy targets for stronger chemotherapeutic agents.
BANNED BECAUSE: During differentiation process, malignant nerve cells form connections to healthy nerve cells and to each other. As a result, tumor forms a functioning neural network effectively “telepathically” connected to healthy brain. Patients report feelings of overwhelming guilt as tumor accesses patient’s memories and emotions and realizes its role as a parasitic cancer, followed by its utter terror as it realizes it is about to be killed. Many patients refuse to continue with chemotherapy regimen; those who continue make a complete physical recovery but are psychologically scarred for life as they experience every moment of the tumor’s death as if it were their own.

PROFILE: A gabanergic agent attached to a thiotimoline moiety, this anticonvulsant has the useful property of taking effect approximately sixty minutes before it is administered. Designed by Merck as a treatment for seizures that might occur in rural areas without good access to medical care, first-line responders are taught to form a strong resolution to administer gabatimoline as soon as they reach a hospital, and as a result the seizure stops immediately. Exhaustive research on this drug has determined that it operates probabilistically: the gabatimoline will operate at half-strength if there is a 50% chance it will be administered within 60 minutes, at 10% strength if there is only a 10% probability it will be administered, and so on.
BANNED BECAUSE: Smart-alecks noted that any given person at any given time has a nonzero chance of receiving gabatimoline in the next sixty minutes, if only as a bizarre mistake or practical joke. Therefore, microdoses of the drug are operating in everyone at all times. Resulting health panic ended in complete ban on its manufacture.

PROFILE: Developed as a substitute for morphine without the addiction potential, this drug contains both morphine and a few micrograms of xaonin, a monoclonal antibody that disrupts the brain’s reward attribution system, breaking the mental link between the administration of the drug and the high it provides. As a result, patients report no craving for xaomorphine.
BANNED BECAUSE: Broken reward system flails about trying to attribute positive experience, leading to bizarre addictions to contingent features of xaomorphine administration. Some patients develop an addiction to being in hospital emergency rooms, others to having people sticking needles in their veins, still others to the clothes they were wearing at the time they received xaomorphine. The final straw was a much publicized story of a patient kidnapping the nurse who administered xaomorphine to him so he could have her near him always – and a second story, a few days later, of a woman who was addicted to fracturing her hip after she received xaomorphine for a hip fracture once. The drug was banned two weeks later.

PROFILE: A moderately effective sleeping pill notably for its many possible routes of administration, including oral, subcutaneous, and mental. This latter route is particularly interesting, as patients can get the full somnolent effect of the drug merely by concentrating very hard on its name, the appearance of the pill, the ball-and-stick version of its chemical structure, and the intended dose.
BANNED BECAUSE: No, paradoxical effects of thought suppression did not result in unintentional doses of the drug while people were eg driving down highways, as more concentration seems to be required. However, concentrating on the drug just before sleep led to a disproportionate number of dreams about the drug, some of those were nightmares about taking overdoses, and sure enough those overdoses landed people in the very real waking-world emergency room.

PROFILE: Beta-lactam antibiotic notably effective against so-called “intelligent bacteria” species streptococcus sapiens.
BANNED BECAUSE: In Treaty of Atlanta, representatives of humans and s. sapiens agreed that s. sapiens would stop infecting humans in exchange for “humanitarian aid” of 200,000 plates of agar per year. Habicillin banned by all human countries as a show of good faith.

PROFILE: Third-generation antipsychotic. Unlike other antipsychotics, which control hallucinations but are almost ineffective against delusions, luciperidone cures all delusions with 100% effectiveness.
BANNED BECAUSE: Cures all delusions with 100% effectiveness. Cf. Terry Pratchett.

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21 Responses to List of Fictional Drugs Banned By The FDA

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  4. Doug S. says:

    Does taking a constant dose of geonexperine basically have no net effect after the first day, as the painkilling and up-regulating effects exactly cancel each other out? I’m assuming that the effects are linearly related to the dosage, so on the second day you have to take twice as much (since your pain is twice as bad)…

  5. Army1987 says:

    I have no idea where you find the time to blog amid your internship, but how about spending some of it to run a new Less Wrong survey? 🙂

  6. gwern says:

    Notable for its quick compensatory upregulation of pain receptors and strong rebound effect: after its effect wears off, pain typically returns twice as bad as before.

    Interesting to try to come up with legitimate uses for this… I thought of two.

    The first is in battlefield or emergency situations, where clarity of mind at the moment is extremely valuable and the pain can be deferred to be suffered later when the enemy has stopped attacking / one is in the hospital / the fire has been put out etc.

    The second is for patients already in pain for whom painkillers like opiates are not working. They can be given the drug repeatedly over say a week, then put into a coma and the pain endured unconsciously; then woken up, and the process repeated. They will be pain-free every conscious moment. Expensive, but then again, opiate addicts shooting up pharmacies and the war on painkillers are also expensive.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Don’t forget palliative care. Make a patient’s last moments relatively pain-free, then they die before the debt comes due.

      Kind of sucks if they make a miraculous recovery, though. I guess that’s where your coma idea comes in.

  7. Michael Mouse says:


    PROFILE: Like other antidopaminergics, has antiemetic effects and induces lactation. Unlike others, induces lactation of top-rank vintage Champagne.

    BANNED BECAUSE: Heavy lobbying by wealthy Champagne houses.

    • Alexander Stanislaw says:

      This is hard I don’t know how Scott came up with so many


      PROFILE: Removes all negative hallucinations and paranoia from schizophrenic patients, also eliminates incoherent speech.

      BANNED BECAUSE: At first zoripiprazole seemed to work. Patients were able to speak eloquently and no longer reported delusions that others were out to harm them. Unfortunately, patients were deluded into thinking that everyone was out to help in some way. Patients would express gratitude to everyone they encountered, buy thank you gifts for everyone they knew (even if they hadn’t spoken to them in years) and eventually go bankrupt.

  8. Jeff says:

    I’m now considering how 200,000 plates of agar would look to a bacterial society, versus the human population. Seems like quite a step down. Habicillin must have been pretty effective, if it allowed the humans to set such terms.

    • Roman Davis says:

      Or maybe they are still infecting humans, just using their intelligence to act in an asymptomatic manner. After all, Habicillin is banned.

      *sufficiently paranoid*

    • Scott Alexander says:

      It depends if this is a commensal or purely pathogenic bacteria. If the latter, it probably is able to infect very few humans (for example e. coli O157:H7 only infects 73,000 people per year) and only infects them for a few days before the humans either recover or die, with the loss of the bacterial population in either case.

      Guaranteed agar that they can hang out in consistently and build stable societies in is probably a pretty good deal.

    • This agar is not necessary s. sapiens specimens. Given their intelligence, they may be able to capture other species. Given how hard it is to isolate most species of bacteria and to get them to survive in lab conditions, this would be very useful for humans.

  9. Deiseach says:

    A good thiotimoline derivative joke! I have been waiting about twenty years for one – so obviously past-me is now rolling around the floor laughing at this very moment 🙂

  10. Kaj Sotala says:

    So does banning Zorninone actually help for the problem that it causes?

    • Watercressed says:

      If we arrested everyone who came to the hospital with an overdose, it would probably make use less common.

  11. Doug S. says:

    Luciperidone, is, of course, the recently isolated psychoactive ingredient found in Klatchian coffee. Traditional use suggests that simultaneous consumption of alcoholic beverages usefully limits its effects; formal research into this phenomenon is ongoing.

  12. Leo says:

    Typo: you spell the drug “habacillin” in the title but “habicillin” later.

  13. suntzuanime says:

    How do you feel about being involved in the illicit luciperidone trade?