The last time I went for a physical examination the nurse who was taking blood samples and updating my medical record was shocked when I reported I was not taking any prescription medications other than an oral inhaler for seasonal asthma. Aside from being a medical freak, I got the feeling from her there were many opportunities for improving my health just by getting on a few popular prescription drugs like Lipitor and Coumadin.
The Hallmark Channel
If you think you are healthy all you have to do is start binge watching episodes on The Hallmark Channel. You will quickly discover that your aches and pains may be rheumatoid arthritis or that “frequent urge to go” might be an enlarged prostate. Have trouble sleeping or chasing your grandchildren around the yard? You may be candidates for Ambien which comes with butterflies and Symbicort for your COPD.
Ironically, our symptoms often aren’t half as bad as the side effects. Here is a list of side effects from some heavily marketed drugs
- Lyrica – Diabetic Nerve Pain: “Lyrica is not for everyone. It may cause serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts or actions.”
- Abilify – Depression for dementia patients: “Elderly dementia patients taking Abilify have an increased risk of death or stroke.”
- Bellsomra – Creepy Pet cartoons made out of fuzzy letters- the sleep cat and the wake dog: “Walking, eating, driving or engaging in other activities while asleep, without remembering it the next day, have been reported.”
- AstraZeneca drug Movantik – Opioid induced constipation: Drug created to deal with side effects of another drug. So many people are addicted to opioids AstraZeneca acctually spent the money to play this ad during the Super Bowl. US Market for drugs treating opioid related constipation expected to be $500 million by 2019.
- Symbicort – COPD: Grandfather used to huff and puff (big bad wolf cartoon) before he took Symbicort. “Side effects – increased death in Asthma patients; increase of lung infections etc.”
US Drug Industry Dwarfs The World
Remember this is big business. The Pharmaceutical industry is making a handsome living by supplying endless pharma solutions to any perceived medical condition even when the cure may be worse than the condition:
My Mother’s Little Helpers
My mother resisted the medical industry. She put doctors in the same category as big banks and the IRS. Accordingly, our childhood medicine cabinet was comprised of four solutions to any medical problem. Milk of Magnesia solved any problem of the digestive track. Vicks VapoRub was the go to prescription for the chest congestion and the common cold. Bayer Aspirin took care of everything else internal, and all skin problems were cured with Keri Lotion. If all else failed, there was always a few sips of whiskey which would always have an expected cleansing effect and also made you sleepy.
Today a mere sniffle has an arsenal of cure weapons ranging from a derringer to a howitzer.
Something more serious like a gastrointestinal problem has thousands of pharmacological solutions. For example, common “gas” which my mother would have treated with Milk of Magnesia now has 56 separate solutions.
Aches and Pains (including mental and emotional versions) have so many different solutions I literally lost count. For example, “Frozen Shoulder” defined as “an inflammatory condition that restricts motion in the shoulder” alone has 49 separate drugs. Silly me to think, since old age is creating shoulder tightness, I could alleviate the problem by stretching. Had I known I could get a prescription for Naproxen, Voltaire or Diclofenac (most popular), I would have cancelled the yoga class.
Next time you want to watch The Hallmark Channel just remember how our parents made it through most of their lives with just two or three all purpose medical solutions of which exercise (other than bowling night) was a pretty low priority. Maybe you should abstain from reruns of “Pride and Prejudice” and try 6 months on Bayer aspirin alone?