Prescription drugs taken as directed kill 100,000 Americans a year. That's one person every five minutes. How did we get here? – Daniela Perdomo, alternet.com
Whether we are tempted by passion from the two tubs on the beach, or an actor who – pretending to have suffered a heart attack – tells us not to make the near-fatal mistake he made, we are buying into the drama, not to mention the erotica, and dying by the thousands because of it.
Read Perdomo’s report before you are next tempted to consult with your doctor about some TV dramatized drug that “is not for everyone” but definitely for you if your wallet is strong enough.
Excerpts from Daniela Perdomo’s interview with Melody Petersen, author of Our Daily Meds,:
DP: Are these people abusing their prescription drugs or is this a sign of prescription meds gone bad?
MP: The study estimating that 100,000 Americans die each year from their prescriptions looked only at deaths from known side effects.
...Tens of thousands of people are dying every year from drugs they took just as the doctor directed. This shows you how dangerous medications are.
When is the last time your doctor agreed with a pharmaceutical company’s ad but also pointed out that kind of ration of prescriptions-to-deaths?
In recent years, sales of drugs for children have been the industry’s fastest growing business.
Doctors now prescribe pills to children for all kinds of conditions — from high cholesterol to anxiety. The market for ADHD drugs has long been a big opportunity for the industry. More recently, the companies have had their sales reps urge doctors to prescribe antidepressants, antipsychotics and other psychiatric meds to children.
Is there any difference between “here’s what the pharma says is wrong with you and here’s how you can fix it” and “heres what pharma has decided is wrong with your child and why you should buy what they are pushing?”
Perdomo: Could you tell me how the prescription med industry is in bed with doctors?
MP: The industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars on physicians every year.
In one survey, 9 out of 10 doctors said they had recently taken something of value from the drug industry. And some of those doctors take hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from the industry.
The drug companies pay doctors to be their so-called consultants. They also pay them to sit on corporate advisory boards and to give lectures to other doctors. They pay for up to 80 percent of the continuing medical education that doctors need to maintain their licenses.
If you ask a doctor if this is a problem, they will more than likely tell you no. But the studies show that even a small gift will sway doctors to write a prescription for a certain drug.
The truth is that doctors are no longer independent gatekeepers who keep us safe from drugs we don’t need.
Far too many of them are financially tied to the industry. They are writing the prescriptions that their financial backers want them to write.
Just asking … but I suggest a long Q&A session every time your trusted physician proposes a new drug for your condition. If you establish a pattern of “show my and tell me why this is a good idea Doc” your provider might think twice before casually promoting and writing out a prescription needing justification and defending.
My own provider recently changed an arthritis prescription – a change to which I agreed only after a timed trial dosage followed up by blood tests needed to demonstrate clearly an improvement in my condition or in my case a lowering of offending chemicals in my blood. And he sent his justification to me in writing.
drug companies can charge whatever they want to — even for drugs that don’t work very well.
One drug costs $400,000 a year. Some cancer drugs now cost $50,000, even though on average, they give the patient just a few weeks extra to live.
It’s clear that the drugs aren’t worth these extreme prices, but the companies are taking advantage of patients who are desperate for a cure.
The industry’s unlimited hikes in prices have helped make health insurance unaffordable. This is also why wages of American workers have stagnated. When health premiums rise, employers must get the extra money from somewhere, and employee raises are one of the first things to go.
The rise of American pharmaceutical companies totally more concerned about making the sale than contributing to the public good is nothing about which this country can take great pride.
It does not represent baseball, mom and apple pie. Rather, hardball medical extortion and wicked stepmothers lying about poisoned apples.
DP: You write about how companies are more interested in developing 'lifestyle drugs for rich Americans' rather than discovering cures for diseases that affect the majority of the world, like malaria.
How many cholesterol drugs do we need? Sex drive meds? Hair loss meds?
MP: The answer is that we really don’t need many of those kinds of drugs, those lifestyle drugs that don’t save or lengthen lives.
But the drug companies have discovered there are billions of dollars to be made by selling pills to Americans who worry about getting old, but are otherwise healthy.
It’s so easy to fall for the marketers’ claim that a little pill will enhance our lives and keep us young forever.
Remember … those advertising characters and their little TV dramas are nothing other than snake oil equivalents of used car salesmen. They just want you to buy the product and get off the lot.
DP: How often are ailments created simply to fit a drug already created?
MP: The industry has proven that it is not beyond creating new diseases when it wants to expand the use of a drug.
For example, I wrote in my book about how the company Pharmacia created the disease of overactive bladder to expand sales of a drug for incontinence. We don’t know how often this is done because few companies are willing to tell the public how their marketers work behind the scenes.
Just wait … some enterprising pharmaceutical outfit is bound to start offering a medication intended to treat GIACS (Gullible Insecure American Consumer Syndrome.)
The drug companies have made Americans believe that almost anything should be treated with a pill.
Women can ask their doctors for a drug that will diminish their facial hair.
Parents can ask for a stimulant to keep their children calm and focused.
Even people who are shy are now told they have a disease that needs to be medicated.
And finally …
In America, if you’re lucky enough to have health insurance, you can easily get too much medicine, too much health care.
Many Americans don’t understand that all of health care has risks and that too much of it can actually shorten your life.
Is this one of the reasons why we’re falling fast in the world rankings on life expectancy?
No one knows for sure. But it’s obvious that all that money we spend on prescriptions and doctors is not giving us an advantage.
Perdomo’s interview is lengthy and well worth the read.