1. I don’t know what you meant by “Clinical trials of meds take place in the lab, rather than in real-world conditions.” Every phase of a clinical trial involves human subjects, and I don’t think any of them require the recipients to stay in the lab.

  2. Something along the line of “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”?

  3. I think this is based on “cave men drew pictures of what was important in their lives”. Right now, this cave man’s life is focused on experimental medication.
    P.S. Another theory: Some cartoonists think that anything anachronistic is automatically funny.

  4. I believe that one of the theories for why they drew the animals was that drawing the animals gave power over the real ones. So drawing the pills would give power over the real ones.
    And Mark Jackson is correct. Clinical trials are done with real patients using a set of doctors and/or hospitals, and are not done in a lab at all. My wife had a job once processing data for the clinical trial of Tagamet.

  5. Clinical trials take place in a clinic, where patients stop by to receive treatment and be interviewed and tested, to see how treatments are working in the real world. Clinical trials are the opposite of lab tests.

  6. In the U.S., clinical trials take a very long time, so we’re more sure we’ve detected side effects and interactions by the time a drug is approved. Of course, this also means that a lot of people don’t get medicine that successfully treats their condition(s), because the thing isn’t approved for sale outside of controlled-trials.

    The joke is that this specific drug (which is so old it was first documented in cave paintings) is STILL waiting for FDA approval, since the FDA approval process doesn’t even begin until the trials are over.

    The thing was, patent timing starts as soon as the patent is applied for, and publishing anything about an invention before applying for the patent can make it unpatentable. This put owners of pharmaceutical patents in a hole, so they learned to game the system. It turns out that “use of drug X to treat condition Y” is a patentable innovation, but “use of drug X to treat condition Z” is ALSO a patentable innovation, which can justify a whole new patent on drug X. So if the maker of drug X discovers a new application for their drug, they’ll wait to announce this until the old patent was just about to run out. Another way to game the system… a drug that contains two other drugs in the same delivery package ALSO counts as a “new” invention, so the maker of drug X for condition Y will buy the rights to drug Z for condition Y, and they announce NEW drug XZ for condition Y… patent pending.

  7. Yes, I was indeed thinking about lab tests. Whoops. Well, in my defense, this was just stream-of-thought soeculation, not an attempt at an actual explanation.

  8. Could it be that this is a depiction of the first attempt to draw on cave walls?

    If so, it could be that the caveman is ‘trialing’ drawing pills on the walls before making the big move to buffalo and spears and hunting parties and so on, making this a ‘comedic’ parallel to the way drug companies do clinical trials with their drugs in labs (or clinics or the real world or wherever) before unleashing the final product onto the public.

    Although with drug companies, the pills will still look like pills when the trials are over. The content may change, but not the form, so that may pull the rug out from under this theory.

    I don’t know. It’s the best I’ve got.

  9. I think James Pollock may be on the right track, but I don’t think “the joke is that this specific drug (which is so old it was first documented in cave paintings) is STILL waiting for FDA approval.” Instead I think the joke (if there is one) is that the approval process is so cumbersome and archaic it might have as well been created in the stone age.

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