People have been making bad decisions about sexual encounters for ages, but a recent development in long-term memory inhibition has led to the creation of a new form of morning-after pill, suitable for both male and female. Both pills promise to erase an uncomfortable situation, but use drastically different methods in doing so.
While neither pill claims to be able to block pregnancy, both are able to block any memory of the act that led to it. The first pill, which has been used in conjunction with therapy to help soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, is called propranolol. This pill must be used in conjunction with a 1-800 phone call or an online chat session with a trained therapist in order to be effective. Each series of pills will cost around $500, but it comes with the all-important consultations. A memory must be transferred from short-term memory into long-term memory, and then retrieved, in order to become permanent. Propranolol allows for the links to be broken, but a therapist must be available to help break the links and make sure the memory stays out of the long-term memory storage of the brain. “It’s like a phone number,” said Rene Matin, a doctor working on the project. “We can remember it long enough to dial the number, but unless we continue to access the number and dial it, the digits will be lost soon after we memorize them to our short-term memory. We simply turn a bad one-night stand into a forgotten phone number.” The package contains five pills and a case number. Once activated, the client is given five consultations, administered in conjunction with taking one pill each session. The effectiveness of propranolol as a memory inhibitor is increased if the event is fresh in the memory, so people are instructed to begin the process of forgetting immediately after waking up and getting away from the situation. “If there is any cuddling or even talking, the effectiveness decreases exponentially,” said Dr. Matin.
While propranolol will be an expensive and hit-or-miss solution for forgetting an unfortunate night, another drug promises to completely erase the memory for a lot less money, but involves an interesting twist. A drug called U0126, marketed under the name Oops, can completely erase a memory if it is taken just before the memory is reenacted. Yes, reenacted! This means that the user would have to take the pill, which creates a limited amnesia state, and then proceed to do what is desired to forget. “Basically, our pill allows people to have two one-night stands and not have to remember either one,” said Paul Pocher, a spokesman for the company. Some critics think that drugs such as Oops could be abused, but Pocher had this to say: “We all have that one night, or two dozen, that we’d like to forget, and this is a great way to experience that horrible yet memorable night one more time before we forget it forever. It’s actually quite poetic.”
The FDA, made up mostly of employees of the drug companies, has said that the pills are perfectly safe and natural. “Our current stance is that all drugs are natural, since they are all created from something found in nature,” said an FDA spokesman. “However,” he stressed, “we are working on regulating vitamins and other homeopathic pills because they have not been tested by major pharmaceutical corporations for their efficacy and viability in the marketplace.”