1896: Active Ingredients Only

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Active Ingredients Only
Contains the active ingredients from all competing cold medicines, plus the medicines for headaches, arthritis, insomnia, indigestion, and more, because who wants THOSE things?
Title text: Contains the active ingredients from all competing cold medicines, plus the medicines for headaches, arthritis, insomnia, indigestion, and more, because who wants THOSE things?


Commercial medicine typically has one (or a few) "Active" ingredient and many "Inactive" ingredients. Active ingredients are the actual medicine, while inactive ingredients -- such as preservatives, dyes, or binders -- are added to dilute the active ingredient to a healthy level and help the body absorb the dose of active ingredient.

Randall thus presents a pack of cold medicine that has "Active Ingredients Only". It has six active ingredients and no inactive ingredients. This might be a spoof of the current trend of advertising food as containing "no additives and no preservatives".

Cold medicines are commonly packaged in blister packs, with each dose contained separately, and vegans commonly open up gelatin capsules and discard the capsule, ingesting only the contents of the pill[actual citation needed] (note that this may not be safe. Please consult your pharmacist or doctor before doing this). By removing the inactive ingredients of the gelatin and the requirement to open it up, the slogan We're not here to waste your time, is justified.

The slogan is a registered trademark (®) while the product name is a common law or unregistered trademark (™). This means that the slogan likely stays the same, while the product name changes from time to time.

In the title text, the medicine company promises their product "Contains the active ingredients from all competing cold medicines, plus the medicines for headaches, arthritis, insomnia, indigestion, and more, because who wants THOSE things?" This may be be a follow-up (or a wish from Randall) after 1618: Cold Medicine, where Cueball wishes to try all possible types of cold medicine at once. The provided justification for combining all these medications is simple: These medicines cure unpleasant symptoms, so taking them all must be a good thing. What this ignores is that taking medicine intended to solve symptoms one doesn't have can be potentially harmful, and would likely be unavoidable for this product's consumers unless they are suffering from all these conditions simultaneously. Furthermore, mixing medications can often lead to unintended reactions and side effects, and is typically advised against.

Another joke is that popular cold medicines contain no antiviral ingredients at all, and treat symptoms only -- while it might make your runny nose less runny, it will do just as much to clear the rhinovirus causing your runny nose as a sugar pill. This part of the comic may be a follow-up to 1526: Placebo Blocker, where a sugar pill is offered to treat a headache.

A secondary joke is by claiming the active ingredients from all "competing" cold medicines, the company producing this "Active Ingredients Only" may choose whom they say they are competing against. Some cold medications treat only pain and fever, for example, and do nothing for cough, congestion, runny nose and sneezing. Doctors recommend medicines which aid for the particular symptoms of the cold one is experiencing.


[A picture of a pack of cold medicine. At the top there is a large advert in three lines. In a black line, to the right of the advert, white text states what kind of medicine is in the pack. Below to the left is a square frame listing ingredients. Most of the text inside this frame is unreadable scribbles. To the right of the frame is another advert inside a black frame. On the side of the box are also unreadable scribbles, both at the top and down next to the ingredients list. At the bottom of the box it can be seen how the pack can open up.]
Active Ingredients
We're not here to waste your time®
Cold Medicine
Active ingredients
[Six lines of scribbles, with first a name, then a statement in brackets and finally a column right of this with a short line of scribbles.]
Inactive ingredients
No binders!

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Seems Randall has a cold again, like two years ago... :D --Kynde (talk) 12:03, 29 September 2017 (UTC)

Why would taking a medication without binding agents be dangerous? Also, would something like a gelcap count as an inactive ingredient? 13:28, 29 September 2017 (UTC)

Yes. If an ingredient is not intended to produce a therapeutic effect on the body, then it is inactive: "Inactive ingredients are components of a drug product that do not increase or affect the therapeutic action of the active ingredient" https://www.google.com/search?q=inactive+ingredient -- Brettpeirce (talk) 14:08, 29 September 2017 (UTC)
Binders hold the tablet together, so that instead of taking a powder and possibly missing some grains that fall away or stick to something (which would be dangerous if you need all the medicine for some life threatening condition) you can take the whole tab and get exactly the intended amount of active ingredient. They are also used to make tabs with minuscule quantities of active ingredient larger so that instead of fumbling with an incredibly tiny tablet it is large enough to be easily held and seen, and since the explanation just says "serious problem" not necessarily "dangerous" I could see having to take a single grain of sand sized medicine as being problematic. 14:45, 29 September 2017 (UTC)

Could this comic be a reference to this image? [[1]] It was the first thing I thought about when I saw it.

I don't think the "Opening the box would reveal a mix of various colored powders and no way to ensure you are correctly taking the right dose." part is right- it doesn't say no separation in packaging, just that the medicine itself has no binding ingredients, it's just once you open any particular section it would not encourage anything inside of it to stay together. And an additional thought- powders? Some active ingredients may have forms more inconvenient than powders, I'd expect some would form a film on the packaging or other inconvenient behavior, though someone would more knowledge on medicine could correct me on just what raw active ingredients really would be like. 04:18, 30 September 2017 (UTC)

Isn't this just BC headache powder but for colds? 04:57, 30 September 2017 (UTC)

Since a cold takes 7 days or a week, depending on treatment, one could make, market and sell such a thing by just selling empty boxes with this "active ingredients only" label. Seems like a good idea for a joint blackhat/beret guy company... -- 07:37, 30 September 2017 (UTC)

Black Beret®? 13:37, 30 September 2017 (UTC)

I would believe that in medicines, binders are only used with loose dry ingredients to create a solid tablet form. Otherwise, loose dry ingredients can be dispensed in packets; and both dry and liquid ingredients are commonly enclosed in dissolvable capsules, all without the need for added binders. "No binders" seems like simple advertising hyperbole, similar to putting a "Not Enclosed In Solid Stainless Steel" label on a loose apple. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 03:57, 1 October 2017 (UTC)

There was a time when medicines were not mass manufactured and you would go to your local apothecary (pharmacist) and the medicine would be formulated on the spot and handed to you as powders wrapped in paper. Such powders while not having any mixers would have questionable purity. Rtanenbaum (talk) 13:48, 2 October 2017 (UTC)

An ampoule could contain medicine with only active ingredients. But, very likely, the dose would be very small and getting it out of the ampoule would result in a very imprecise dosage. In real life, medicine in ampoules tends to be very diluted.

Which six ingredients would you choose, to best fulfil the wording on the package?[edit]

Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, maltose, dextrose The first four covers all "competing" code medicines for generalized aches and pains, facial pain, fever, and headache. For this mixture, I would reduce the amounts of ibuprofen and naproxen from commonly seen amounts, as they affecting the same pathways, of course! The last two items on my list are placeholder placebos, to cover any of the other listed ailments which may not be affected by the first four, but perhaps somebody can improve on my list to add some chemicals that don't have bad interactions with the first four. Perhaps Doxylamine and Diphenhydramine, each at dosages reduced from common amounts, to relieve watery eyes, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and difficult in getting to sleep. If these last two were added, then the medicine would be recommended to be taken a certain time before going to bed, and a warning against driving or operating heavy machinery would appear on the part of the package not shown in the comic.

[Comet] 20:43, 6 October 2017 (UTC) Take two aspirin, and call me in the morning.