I remember a few years back there was a Public Health campaign directed at young people who were offered illegal drugs – “Just say no” – was the campaign slogan. Turns out the bigger problem is prescription drugs….
According to the UN report referred to in this sensationalist heading women are more likely to be “abusing” prescription drugs than illegal ones. And the problem is getting worse and worse….
The rate of increase in prescribing is colossal. It simply isn’t sustainable.
The excellent David Healy, author of “Pharmageddon”, points out that in the 1960s it was unusual for a doctor to prescribe more than two drugs to the same patient. Now, 50 years on, ten to fifteen drugs for a patient is not uncommon. That’s truly astonishing.
David Healy has an interesting take on this today. He points out that there was a shift in focus and law in the 19th Century which resulted in doctors, rather than patients, becoming the prime “consumers” of drugs.
Doctors who for centuries had being trying to push quacks and hucksters out of the medical marketplace were being offered the means to conclusively do so. You would only be able to get the drugs that really worked from your doctor. But the bargain was Faustian. Few if any doctors seemed to spot that patients would no longer be the consumers of drugs. If by consumers we mean those who are the targets of pharmaceutical company marketing, then doctors were the new consumers. These new consumers moreover would consume by putting drugs into their patients’ mouths and so would consume without side effects. This was a win-win of which Mephistopheles would have been proud.
As he rightly says
Left to their own devices few of a doctor’s patients would ever take 10-15 over the counter drugs at the same time for indefinite periods no matter what the supposed benefits.
He quotes Pinel as saying about the Art of Medicine -
“It is an art of no little importance to administer medicines properly: but it is an art of much greater and more difficult acquisition to know when to suspend or altogether to omit them”.
That’s what I was taught, but it seems this principle has lost ground rapidly. Nowadays doctors don’t only prescribe to suppress almost every symptom a patient presents, they prescribe for the healthy to stop them becoming sick!
This is not sustainable. It has to stop.
…..doctors are going to have to come up with something extraordinary. They may even need to become a revolutionary class, partisans, who create a space that markets do not readily understand – a space where No is the operative word.
I don’t want to be completely negative here. Understand I’m not arguing for doctors to refuse to help patients. I’m arguing for doctors to rediscover the Art of Medicine, to become patients’ partners in health, helping them to flourish in their lives, during health, and during sickness. I’m arguing for a reality check, instead of reflex prescribing of substances that only dope, and dull, and mask.
Let’s learn how to be discerning and only prescribe as a contribution to the work of assisting a person’s natural self-healing.
The Life Force – the only known way to health.