So, you spent all night tubthumping and testing the limits of your liver. Your souvenir is the world’s worst hangover. One company is offering consumers a chance at 'Hangover Heaven,' claiming it can provide relief in 45 minutes or less.
Hangover Heaven is the brainchild of Dr. Jason Burke, a Las Vegas anesthesiologist. It allows ailing partiers to call a bus for treatment of their alcohol-related headaches and nausea. The bus debuted Saturday in Las Vegas and Burke tells HLN its sole purpose is alleviating hangover symptoms quickly.
The mobile medical unit is outfitted with EMTs and Burke personally administers patients with medication intravenously.
The fee ranges from $90 for a basic IV treatment to $150 for what he calls his premium package.
HLN's Dr. Drew Pinsky says Burke's hangover remedy is exactly how doctors in hospitals treat people who get sick from alcohol. The IV bags are filled with fluids and vitamins that have been depleted, he says.
Burke says he came up with the idea of Hangover Heaven after noticing that surgical patients in recovery had symptoms that mimicked hangover indicators.
“An hour or two with a horrible hangover can be an eternity,” says Burke, who added that his personal hangover experiences also helped shape his vision. “The main goal of this business is to get people back to vacation.”
Burke says he would never treat a patient for more than two days consecutively, nor does Hangover Heaven aid drunk or belligerent customers.
“This isn’t designed for people whose main method of drinking alcohol is through a funnel,” he says. “This is a professional medical practice. Just because it’s on a bus doesn’t mean it’s second rate.”
Hangover Heaven also has a mission to help educate people about how to be healthier when drinking, Burke says. He offers the example of drinkers who unknowingly mix the wrong medications while trying to treat hangovers.
Burke says his practice is insured and has the proper licensing from the county, which had many questions about Hangover Heaven before it was green-lighted.
Critics question whether Burke is enabling people by offering a quick fix hangover remedy.
“While Hangover Heaven’s products may certainly help you feel better in the moment, and get you back to enjoying your vacation, the message that this new venture sends to the public regarding alcohol consumption and addiction is a dangerous one: There is a quick and painless fix for drinking too much, and you don’t need to suffer in the process,” Dr. Robert Glatter, a private housecall physician who calls himself "Dr. 9-1-1," wrote in an article in Forbes magazine.
Dr. Drew believes there could be serious ethical implications with the service.
“It’s kind of missing the point,” Dr. Drew says. “If someone is drinking that much they have alcoholism. Alcoholism is defined as relationship that causes consequences." Having to get an IV to help get over a hangover is a consequence, he says.
Dr. Drew worries the treatment could keep people propped up so they are able to continue using. “I would say if you have drunk so much that you need to visit this mobile unit, you almost certainly have a problem.”
Dr. Drew also wonders how committed Burke is to his patients. “What is his follow-up plan?” he asks. “As a physician you have a certain follow-up obligation too.”
Burke says so far his clients have mostly been out-of-town business people on vacation who’ve imbibed too much. He adds that if he suspected a client had a drinking problem, he would discuss it with that person.
Burke says Hangover Heaven doesn’t encourage people to drink more.
“In the end I don’t think there’s an ethical issue with this,” he says. “I’m treating a legitimate condition.”
Still, at least one critic wonders if Hangover Heaven should have more scrutiny.
“I don’t think it’s grotesque. I just think it’s got some issues with it,” Dr. Drew says.