Can you help me score some drugs?

by Yule Heibel on April 19, 2004

Prescription, that is. It’s not a libido-enhancer or a weight-reducer I’m after. This is what I want, nay, what I need: Zephrex LA 120 Tablets by Sanofi-Synthelabo. I’m not interested in the weaker-dosed non-LA Zephrex (LA stands for Long Acting), nor in the generic product. I have years of experience taking this stuff, and only the real McCoy will do: big guns, 600 mg of Guaifenesin and 120 mg of Pseudoephedrine HCI, in combination. In the big orange tablet. No generic knock-off. This wonderdrug seems to be unavailable in Canada. Do any readers (or FOAF) have experience using online pharmacies in Canada? Can you recommend any? How can I use an American Internet pharmacy, i.e., which ones will ship to Canada? The few Canadian internet pharmacies I’ve checked don’t seem to carry Zephrex LA. I’m completely clueless as to what and who is out there, and whom to trust, and whether I can even use an American source. I have a secret and sadly shrinking cache of the stuff which I’ll probably have to use up in this, my renewed bout with sinusitis, and I am desperate to lay my hands on a fresh supply. I started to suffer from chronic sinusitis (the kind that doesn’t go away no matter how many rounds of antibiotics you go on) in 1992/93. I tried everything, especially after I gave up on the continuous antibiotics, which seemed to do diddly-squat. All I ever got from inhaling steroids up my nose were massive headaches. I tried naturopathy, homeopathy (my GP at the time, Len Horowitz, is a genius “regular” MD and also a certified homeopath — I highly recommend him, but neither the allopathic nor the homeopathic approaches served to budge this thing), acupuncture, even chiropraxis (to get the adrenal glands going, whatever that was). I sucked saline solution (warm water and Kosher or sea salt) up my nose 2-3 times per day. I tried chamomile steam inhalations. Everything. Finally, when the sinus infections started coming even in the summers, I had a CAT or MRI scan (can’t remember which) to find out what was going on, and talked with a Ear-Nose-Throat specialist. He recommended surgery, but frankly, I had heard about too many people for whom surgery hadn’t worked, and in my case it would have involved going under and behind the eyeballs to get at especially clogged up areas. Done at Mass. Eye & Ear, the surgery is usually uneventful, but if something does go wrong, you can end up with permanent double-vision or even blindness. Somehow that didn’t seem like a good risk for an art historian. Since I declined surgery, he prescribed Zephrex LA 120 instead. And so, from about 1997 until 2002, Zephrex LA saved my life — or at least my sanity. As any chronic sinusitis sufferer knows, there comes a point where you just want to kill yourself because you can’t stand the pain, the sense of having styrofoam-wrapped 16-ton weights in your head, and the resulting “blues” (ha!, try depths of hell-hole depression) any longer. Sinusitis is a slow but terrible killjoy, amazingly effective at throttling the life out of any happy tawts you might perchance conceive in your congested head. Like any low-level chronic disease that’s painful, it takes away perspective — you feel like you’re in a hole, and the disease IS your life — and because it affects your head, it has a profound effect on that “vision thing” and on emotions. Because it’s an almost constant infection and your body is constantly fighting it, you become prone to all sorts of other bugs and nuisances. In November 1998 I contracted a pneumonia that was so bad I nearly croaked. No antibiotics seemed to work. Dr. H. postulated that perhaps it was viral. But I still didn’t get better and instead I just kept getting dozier and quieter and thinner, just slipping away. At that point, he admitted me to hospital for 4 or 5 days on an outpatient basis to get a brand-new antibiotic (really new: just a few days on the market) which was administered intravenously for about an hour or two at a time. That did the trick. My x-rays, meanwhile, continued to show spots months after I “recovered.” All this thanks to being run-down over a five-year period by a snot nose. Did you know that you have sphenoid sinuses in your head? This fact, which I learned after my scan, just amazed me. That mine were clogged beyond hope was less amazing, just another brick in the wall, er, head. (And it’s the sphenoids which have to be accessed via the eyeball sockets in surgery…) I mean, really! What the hell is the point of cavities to the back of your temples, above your ears? Is that where the little pixies live, the little voices, that go and tell you to drown yourself because it’s all no use anyway? Did you know that chronic sinusitis, being a constant infection and irritant, eventually eats into the bones of your skull? This is not a trivial disease, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people are on anti-depressants because, simply by virtue of where it lives (in your head), it wreaks havoc with your emotional outlook. Sinusitis, along with asthma, is one of the fastest growing chronic diseases in the industrial world. Zephrex LA 120 (by Sanofi-Synthelabo — they should pay me!) does this amazing thing: it liquifies the bricks in your head. Everything actually starts to drain — not dry up, which is one of the worst things that can happen, because it means the gunk turns into gluey, ropy stuff that you’ll never, ever expel, and which will instead provide the perfect “starter yeast” for yet another infection. No, you don’t want gunk, you want rivers pouring out of you. With Zephrex LA, things start to flow again, and as any groovy person knows, flow is everything. No flow, no go. In short, on my Ear-Nose-Throat doctor’s recommendation, I became a habitual drug user, taking this stuff every day (just a half dose, one tablet instead of 2, and only upping to the 2-per-day dose if I had another bout of something), and baby, things were moving again, yes! After the brand-new antibiotic kicked my pneumonia’s ass straight to hell in late ’98, I realised my sinuses were also infection-free for the first time in years. And because the Zephrex LA kept things moving, no stagnant pools formed as breeding grounds for new bugs. See, that’s the key: if your mucus production is happening because of allergies, say, there is wetness in those cavities. That’s not bad in itself, but with sinusitis sufferers, the wetness doesn’t drain or move, and instead becomes a breeding ground. Any other body in your vicinity with a common garden variety cold sneezes at you, and those bugs go “woo-hooo, lookit this! A warm pool, let’s play here, yeehaw!” and bingo, another round of sinusitis begins. Sometimes the rounds are so closely spaced, there’s no let-up at all. Your sinus cavities will be the most happening YMCA in the country! Remember when they’d close the Y’s pool, drain it to clean it? That’s what these meds do. “Sorry, bugs, pool’s drained, go somewhere else.” As you can see, I’m very fond of my Zephrex LA, and I was devastated when I learned that for some reason it’s unavailable in Canada. One MD here, after looking it up in her book, even suggested it was banned or something. C’mon. I don’t care if it kills me! Puh-lease! I stopped taking Zephrex LA on a regular basis when we moved back to Canada. I husbanded my remaining cache carefully, taking the tablets only when I felt another instance of sinus infection trying to take hold. I have been relatively free of sinus infection, and can manage a cold without having it throw me to the gound and nail my head to the floor. But since Thursday, I’ve been fighting off this particular nasty virus that’s making the rounds in these parts, and guess what? I have a sinus infection again — a nice side effect. So, I pulled out my remaining supply of Zephrex LA, took the first one yesterday — hallelujah!, quelle relief! — but now I’m really scared, too. I’m down to about 10 tablets. I don’t want to go back to that dark, bricked-up place. If anyone has any ideas how I can lay my hands on more — via Internet pharmacies, whatever — shoot me a comment. My GP here can’t give it to me.


kai April 20, 2004 at 12:37 am

Tanta Yule,

I never knew you had a sinus condition.

Sanofi-Synthelabo Inc.
90 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Tel: 212.551.4000

Product Information Services
Tel: 800.446.6267

Go to the CONTACT section of the website. There is a form located there so that you can contact them. Go right to the source.

Or, go to – this is a list of the most reliable offshore pharmacies, together with their price lists, URLs etc. They are essentially an altruistic site, and shouldn’t therefore provide you with any apocryphal information. I cannot really see why such a product would be banned in Canada, as the two constituents you list are contained in almost every OTC cold remedy, simply in higher doses. This is where I see the one problem arising: offshore pharmacies tend to go in for more interesting things such as benzodiazipines and narcotics, whereas what you want is relatively mundane, possibly too mundane to be of interest to them. In the event of this stuff not being available, I would send a condensed version of your blog entry to the marketing dept. of Sanofi USA – you may find that they will send the stuff to you gratis; A chemist within my brain trust claims to have heard of such things happening in cases such as yours. Good luck, Auntie!

kai April 20, 2004 at 12:37 am

[Since Kai’s comment posted twice, I’m using an edit of this one to answer back (I being your friendly blogger):]

Well, Kai, you sneaky guy — have you been reading this blog for
long?  No, wait, don’t answer that, email me instead, you have the
address.  And I don’t know if I still have yours or if it’s a
working one, so email me.  A bunch of addresses got lost in a
platform shuffle some time ago. 

Yes, sinusitis and I have a long relationship.  I’ve been to the
Sanofi website of course, but I’m not yet sure how they’ll help —
maybe I should try your suggestion about sending them my blog
plight.  I found one reference to Zephrex LA’s advertising
account, and it said “no longer active.”  Augh.  Maybe it’s
discontinued?  And yes, the ingredients aren’t exactly
mind-altering high-end drugs, but it’s something in the dosage that
seems to make this product effective.  The regular Zephrex doesn’t
work at all, nor the generic, or those other OTC things which contain
pseudoephedrine and/or guaifenesin.  For all I know it’s a placebo
effect, but it really does the trick.  

maria April 20, 2004 at 12:03 pm

I don’t have any links to offer, Yule … only tons of sympathy. There has to be something out there to get those bugs pool-hopping out of your sinuses!

Odd that a Canadian is looking for drugs this way; the media would have us believe that our pharmaceutical prayers — from selection to price — could be answered if only we turned north of the border….

Yule Heibel April 20, 2004 at 11:09 pm

I found out additional information, which I posted here today (April 20). The quest continues….

Joel April 21, 2004 at 6:05 am

maria, I guess it depends on what you are looking for.

Yule: I’m a benadryl addict myself. Antihistamines are just about the only thing that I am allowed to take to follow the orgasms of the spring flowers.

Joel April 21, 2004 at 6:05 am

follow should be something else or another….it’s been a rough night.

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