Overprescribing drugs helps firms, but not patients
One summer when I was 10, I convinced my mother to get a dog. Mr. Chips, as he came to be known, was a black cocker/springer spaniel mix with white "bib" and "socks."
Mr. Chips was a delight— smart, affectionate and learned all kinds of tricks. The only times Chips saw a vet was for a distemper shot and after he unadvisedly challenged a German shepherd. For his 14 active, healthy years, Chips was fed nothing fancier than canned dog food and table scraps.
Today, we have a pedigreed Schnauzer that feasts on high-end, expensive dried food. In addition, at $25 each, she takes a monthly pill to ward off fleas and another pill for anxiety when guests are expected or there is a grooming. In addition, several different injections are "required" at various intervals.
Though I guess these drugs and injections are of benefit to our dog, I do wonder who is actually benefiting: the dogs, the owners or possibly the drug companies?
On most weekdays I watch a TV news program while eating lunch. It seems every other ad is for a drug. There is Ozempic for diabetes, Garlique for chloresterol, Brilinta for one's heart, Xeljanz for arthritis and ulcerative colitis, Otezla for arthritis, Lyrica for diabetic nerve pain, Botox for chronic migraines, and Xarelto, among others, for irregular heartbeat. That's just a small sample followed by a list of potential side effects — depression, suicide, swelling of the lips, face and gums, trouble breathing, paralysis in the face and pain in the neck.
Prescription medications are necessary. I now take five each day, primarily due to issues of aging. On the one hand, as a result, my quality of life has improved when compared to my parents' generation.
On the other, the plethora of drugs offered feels out of control. One begins to suspect the explosion of drugs now flooding the TV screen is an attempt by the drug companies to encourage us to pressure our doctors to prescribe a remedy. My hope is that the motive is one of compassion. My suspicion is the motive is more one of profit.
I accept the reality of a profit motive in our capitalistic system. However, even so, the same drugs in Canada and many other developed countries tend to be available for much cheaper. In some cases, what the drug companies spend for promotion and advertising can exceed what it spent for research. Is it time for the big pharmaceutical companies and the profit motive associated with prescription drugs to be more tightly regulated?
Fortunately my doctors have been careful and thoughtful in the drugs they've prescribed. Even when I have inquired about a particular drug, they have responded they didn't think it was necessary.
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