Attempts to make safe alternatives to dangerous products that have backfired.

Cecil’s current report delves into the relative safety of e-cigarettes compared to actual cigarettes. He also mentions the fact that heroin was intended to be a safer alternative to morphine. It got me thinking: What drugs or other products were created to be safer, suitable replacements but backfired instead? Olestra, the dreadful substitute for snack food fat, comes first to mind.

Well, Wikipedia has this to say about Thalidomide. It “is an anti-nausea and sedative drug that was introduced in the late 1950s to be used as a sleeping pill, and was quickly discovered to help pregnant women with the effects of morning sickness. It was sold from 1957 until 1962, when it was withdrawn after being found to be a teratogen, which caused many different forms of birth defects.”

Strictly speaking, not viewed as a safe alternative to a dangerous product, but instead viewed as a treatment for unpleasant effects of pregnancy.

One of my favorites was also concerning cigarettes. In the 50s when they first developed filters for them to help cut down on the nasty chemicals you inhaled, they worked. Except that one of the first materials they used to make the filters out of was-

wait for it…

Asbestos! Oops!

There’s also methadone, which is used to treat heroin addiction. Not a great idea when you consider methadone is also addictive.

Well, my issue is with nylon rope. The old fashion hemp ropes did not stretch. 1/2 hour ago I was using my 4WD to pull out a stump with a heavy nylon rope. The stretched rope catapulted the stump through my rear window and into the back of the seat I was sitting on nearly killing me.

Seldane (Terfenadine) was introduced as an allergy medication you could take during the day, because it didn’t cross the blood-brain barrier, so no drowsiness. It also worked great.

Too bad it causes heart attacks…

Not so - Thalidomide was marketed as a sleeping pill.

Heroin was originally marketed as a safe, nonaddicting substitute for morphine. So was demerol.

Methadone as a treatment for heroin addiction actually makes some sense, given the vastly different half-lives and degrees of positive reinforcement due to the relative amount of euphoria each delivers. Heroin makes most opioid addicts extremely, extremely euphoric for short periods of time, setting up the next use quickly. Methadone makes most opioid addicts rather mellow for a long time, postponing the next use and making it somewhat less urgent.

Thanks for the clarification. “Introduced to be used as a sleeping pill” is very different from “marketed as a sleeping pill.”

Does anybody remember Premier cigarettes? They were marketed by R. J. Reynolds in 1988 as a safer alternative to cigarettes. They didn’t burn down. They had a charcoal tip that was ignited and heated the air moving past the tobacco as you inhaled. It extinguished itself after a few minutes. It was supposed to create less second hand smoke and present less of a fire hazard, but smokers didn’t like the taste or the odor, so they were a flop.

Weren’t those the cigarettes described in the movie, “Barbarians at the Gate,” as tasting like shit?

Trans fats.

One article I read said that the original foam that coated the shuttle tanks used Freon or some such ozone-unfriendly or greenhouse gas. As a result, and as a PR move to show that the treaty on chlorofluorocarbons should have no exceptions - they went to a different formula that did not use chlorofluorocarbons. The only downside was that this foam was less reliable and it seems occasionally chunks fell off, but what they hey, no harm done eh?

These get an honorable mention in Barbarians at the Gate. They worked great except for the minor detail that field testing resulted in comments comparing the experience to swallowing outhouse content.

Honorable mention must go to the Davy Crockett, a shoulder-mounted nuclear rocket. Such a pity the blast radius was greater than its range…

I remember when Roseanne (in the TV show) started smoking and Dan said “So, are you smoking menthols or those charcoal tips?”. It always seemed like an odd question and as a kid I didn’t really know what it meant.

They tried reviving them a few years ago. I bought a few packs but didn’t really care for them. Maybe someone who had never smoked would like them, but I didn’t. They were hard to light, tasted differently, you didn’t ash them and then when you were done (which was hard to tell), you would throw away a whole cigarette…and wondered if you could just smoke the tobacco that was still in there.

What was that supposed to be a safer alternative to? Fighting the Commies hand to hand?

If you lit them using a match instead of a lighter the sulpher would somehow react with the ingredients, or perhaps the little piece of charcoal that you were lighting. The result was something that made you think you were inhaling a fart. That little bit of charcoal also could fall out and burn the crap out of your hands, clothes, and you better be careful if you smoke one sitting down.

Honey Badger don’t care! :smiley:

I always wondered why the hell they did that!

I remember the first shuttle launch. Did it even have foam? I always thought it was just a painted container… I was around 10 and watching it on a black/white, small TV, so I am probably wrong on that.

But every time I’ve heard something about foam falling off, etc. , I’m always like “just use the old style tanks you idiots!”