Empathy Pills Pulled

Mellotron, Magnificat, Venus -- 31 Mar. 2057:  Utilitran, a popular empathogen, has been ordered removed from the market by the Bureau of Alterant Regulation after a medical paper was published last week showing a link between the drug and increased rates of involuntary neurochemical alteration.  The paper, published in the Proceedings of the Venusian Medical Society by Dr. Flagen Flagenflan of the Siddiqui Institute for the Study of Mood Disorders, claimed that use of Utilitran predicted a 41% increase in incidences of bipolar disorder and religious manias in people with no history of such symptoms or desire to experience them.

Utilitran is commonly prescribed to patients coping with sociopathic disorders or other difficulties in processing feelings of empathy and is frequently recommended as an empathogen for use in judicial medical interventions.  There is also a minor trend in recreational use of the drug by people desiring to increase their general level of empathy, particularly those belonging to traditional religions such as Chrislamity and Wicca.  Doctors across the system are scrambling to get their hands on replacement empathogens, and pharmaceutical manufacturers are ramping up production of sister alterants such as Moralus, Dorite, and Samariam.

There have been a few protests of this move, largely by clinicians who say that Utilitran is simply the most effective empathogen on the market.  "Moralus and the rest don't work nearly as well for my patients," tweeted Dr. Millman Pithwick, a private Mellotron psychiatric practitioner.  But, startlingly, a sharp criticism has also come from the Venusian Neurochemical Diversity Coalition.  In a press release, the Coalition stated that Utilitran is used by many people to enhance their efforts to become bipolar via transcranial magnetic stimulation techniques.  The coalition accused Dr. Flagenflan and the Siddiqui institute of 'neuronormative' prejudice.  "The Siddiqui institute conducts plenty of research on how to stop people from experiencing bipolarity, but none whatsoever in helping them to achieve it," reads the press release.  "It is unconscionable to take away one of the few demonstrated techniques by which people who desire to experience the exquisite creativity or energy of a manic high can reach that goal."

"Utilitran has been withdrawn until further testing can definitively establish the cause of these symptoms," said Bureau of Alterant Regulation spokesperson Gibbley Wambone at a press conference earlier today.  "This is not intended as a slight against those who use empathogens, nor against those who choose to live their lives in a state of bipolarity.  It is every person's right to alter their own neurochemistry as they see fit, to experience increased empathy, manic and depressive states, or any other neurological condition they choose; but this right must be tempered by caution and thorough knowledge of every drug's effect on personality, perceptions and behaviour."

PhiCor, the makers of Utilitran, have taken a vicious beating in the markets this day, seeing their stock drop 562 millicredits on the InterPlan Index.  Meanwhile, competitor companies DynaVax, GenoTech, and VaxiPharm, which manufacture competing empathogens, have seen their stock rise significantly.  In response to requests for comment, PhiCor representatives released a brief e-mail stating that the company is cooperating fully in the recall and is eager to further research the findings.

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