Stage Fright? Just Pop a Cardiac Pill and Relax

A startup wants to make propranolol readily available for anyone looking to calm their nerves, but psychiatrists think it’s a bad idea.

Kick's Website / Image: Kick
Kick's Website / Image: Kick

An October 25th Scientific American article discussed a San Francisco-based startup that aims to market a heart medication that negates stage fright to the masses. The company is called Kick, and they want to make it easy for anyone facing fear to get a prescription for propranolol. Users can do so by filling out an online form and passing a consultation with a physician via video call. Kick has reformulated propranolol pills into flavored lozenges that dissolve in your mouth and release 10 mg of the drug to calm your nerves.

However, there is pushback from mental health professionals. Stefan Hoffman, a psychologist at Boston University said, “That’s a horrible idea. It’s a horrible idea!” Hoffman believes psychoactive drugs require a thorough assessment prior to prescription, but it should be noted that he advises a competing business called SilverCloud that markets online cognitive behavioral therapy programs for anxiety. Dr. Franklin Schneier of Columbia University says that Kick’s approach “trivializes both the condition of social anxiety and the treatment of propranolol.”

The founder of Kick, Jim Safka, can personally vouch for the pill as it helped him overcome social anxiety to propel his career. “I honestly believe it changed my life,” Safka said. “I hope that other people can realize that it’s available.”

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