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"Blowfish" for Hangover? Buyer Beware

Tim Boyer's picture

Multiple recent news reports state that the FDA has approved a hangover pill called “Blowfish” that reportedly will knockout multiple hangover symptoms within 15 to 30 minutes of taking a 2-tablet dose dissolved in water. However, the tagline “FDA approved” in some news stories is misleading as Blowfish is a concoction of common everyday over-the-counter ingredients already approved by the FDA. Is “Blowfish” something new or is it just something old packaged to look new for the unwary consumer?

The symptoms of a hangover generally include headache, fatigue, nausea or upset stomach, thirst—and usually regret. How many times have we heard “Never again” pass our lips? Other symptoms sometimes also include a rapid heartbeat, tremors, sweating, muscle aches, increased sensitivity to light and sound, irritability, depression and anxiety.

While the actual physiochemistry underlying a hangover is poorly understood, physicians agree that dehydration is a major culprit in our morning-after discomfort. Alcohol is known to inhibit the release of an anti-diuretic hormone called vasopressin, which in turn causes the kidneys to function improperly and produce greater amounts of urine. This then leads to dehydration that causes us to experience thirst, headaches, weakness and dizziness.

Cures for hangovers are as varied as those for the common cold. And, attempting to pass-off a cure for a hangover as a medicine is nothing new either. A quick check of FDA records shows copies of multiple letters of admonishment citing the Federal Drug and Consumer Act from the FDA to various companies for making such products with claims that are false and misleading. As anyone from a pharmaceutical company will tell you, how a new medicine is worded is often grounds for a lawsuit from competing companies in protest to the FDA.

Perhaps wording is the issue behind reports of a new hangover pill called Blowfish.

The hangover pill Blowfish is the alcohol-addled brain child of Brenna Haysom whose credentials in drug development apparently are limited to having graduated from Harvard, worked 7 years in an equity firm in Manhattan, and personal experience from suffering the aftereffects of too much partying.

Ms. Haysom’s website states her discovery of her hangover cure as follows:

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“During a period of intense sacrifice, I worked my way through every hangover remedy I could find and found that the hangover products out there were herbal remedies that had to be taken the night before and didn’t do much to solve the problem.”

“I started on a quest to find something that really worked and could be taken the morning after drinking. After some research, I found a combination that did the trick, fast. I started sharing it with my friends, and they kept asking for more. I realized I was on to something. In 2010, I founded Rally Labs and now I focus full time on hangovers.”

Blowfish is advertised as an Alka-Seltzer-like effervescent, morning-after hangover remedy that combines caffeine with a maximum strength pain reliever to address the major symptoms associated with a hangover. In fact, the pain-relief effects of Blowfish are so great that it is also advertised to work with non-hangover pain and fatigue.

So, just what is in this miracle called Blowfish? It turns outs that Blowfish is nothing more than a combination of aspirin, caffeine and an antacid. The aspirin takes care of the headache associated with dehydration with drinking alcohol; the caffeine gives your system a little energy boost when your body is feeling not-so-optimum, and the antacid is for the sore stomach that invariably is part of the package of having an hangover.

Under the company website FAQ page of whether it is regulated by the FDA, it states that, “Blowfish is an over the counter drug and is FDA regulated pursuant to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Rally Labs LLC is registered with the FDA under labeler code 075920.” In other words, Blowfish is not necessarily “FDA approved” as some sources claim, but that it has to follow regulations set forth by the FDA. In particular, regulations that say how the packaging of a product is labeled when sold to consumers as a type of medicinal product.

According to ABC News writer Katie Moisse, who got the story right, there is no FDA-Approved designation toward Blowfish because Blowfish is just a mix of aspirin, caffeine and an antacid, all of which are already FDA approved. A follow-up call to the FDA about Blowfish has not yielded a response, nor does the FDA website include Blowfish as an FDA-approved drug.

Blowfish sells for $2.99 a dose or $11.99 for a six-pack and is currently available in only a few stores in New York City and online. However, what Blowfish offers is no different than dragging your sorry, drunk butt out of bed, pouring a cup of coffee and downing two aspirins and an antacid.

Really! Do we need a special pill just for that?