Valium - Poem by Paul Hartal
She was not really sick, nor severely ill;
only taut, tense, tired, anxious and stressed.
But when she asked the doctor for help
he had swiftly prescribed her the pill:
from a sedative class category, valium
or diazepam, dissolving anxiety, attending
to her panic attacks, enabling her unbending,
relaxing at last her nerves and atrium.
But it did not take too long for her to get
addicted to the devious tranquilizer drug.
She lost her appetite, she felt dizzy and tight;
her anxiety back, she woke up shaking in sweat.
Primum non nocere, oh physician, please,
abstain from doing harm, Hippocrates warns.
Medical interventions carry gloomy risks,
the cure might be worse than the disease.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
In 1978, at the time of the drug’s peak popularity, Americans consumed more than two billion Valium tablets. The medicament even became a cultural icon. The Rolling Stones sang the praises of the ‘little yellow pill” in their 1966 hit, “Mother’s Little Helper.” Diane Keaton in Woody Allen’s 1977 film, 'Annie Hall', desperately crawls on the floor in search of Valium. The film maker also gave a cameo role to the pharmaceutical in his 2011 'Midnight in Paris', wherein Gil offers Zelda “the pill of the future” to unbind her angst.
Valium was developed by the chemist Leo Sternbach at F. Hoffman-La Roche’s pharmaceutical corporation in New Jersey. He created a whole family of new drugs called benzodiazepines intended to help ease anxiety. In 1963 the Food and Drug Administration approved the marketing of valium, a medicine invented to “reduce psychic tension”. It became the first drug to exceed $ 1 billion in sales. Valium was marketed aggressively as a wonderful chemical answer to anxiety. However, as early as 1964, responsible medical experts sounded alarms regarding the pill’s addictive potential. A Vogue story in 1975 warned that taking valium could result in a “far worse addiction than heroin”.
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