We Like Drugs – Fair and Balanced

Were those gasps we just heard? Maybe a few people falling out of their chairs? (Sorry about that, by the way.) No, the sky hasn’t fallen, and (as far as we know) hell hasn’t frozen over.

As many of you know, we offer the occasional critique of Big Pharma – its business model, advertising practices, ethics, etc. (No, really?) Although this post doesn’t negate our previous points, we want to present a side of the MDA philosophy that, admittedly, doesn’t get as much blog time.

As we’ve always known but not often stated, drugs (medicinal), in and of themselves, aren’t evil. In fact, we think some drugs are great – if they’re going to save your life or relieve unbearable chronic pain or some otherwise debilitating condition or disease. Pharmaceuticals can serve a vital role in our medical care system and in many people’s lives, including some within our own MDA community. And for that, we’re incredibly thankful. Sure, the system has its flaws, but we also know it gets many critical things right.

We absolutely, unequivocally support using the benefits of modern science to create drug therapies that combat the ravages of disease, acute injury or runaway infections. Most of the drugs we take issue with here on MDA are those that seem to apply to health problems that could be more effectively addressed by lifestyle changes. And even then, we absolutely don’t believe that people who have made the wrong choices for too long simply be left to die (as we’ve been accused of in the past). Some drug therapies can give people a second chance, a boost as they get their health back on track. (But we still say they shouldn’t be cavalierly prescribed and “mass marketed” as something everyone should consider taking.) The use of drugs that address what are, in most cases, “lifestyle diseases” shouldn’t be necessary in an ideal world. Nonetheless, human nature is fallible, and common medical advice is unfortunately often flawed or at least incomplete.

What a blessing it is to live in an age when we can argue here about the options and alternatives that allow us to avoid pharmaceuticals instead of an earlier time when people would’ve given their eye teeth and all their worldly possessions to find some treatment for a disease or condition that had no cure or legitimate medical therapy.

At times, drugs are essential to save lives or significantly boost fundamental quality of life when lifestyle and assorted wellness/whole-health therapies alone cannot. To those of you (and a few of us) whose lives have been spared by pharmaceutical interventions or who have gotten a new lease on life, a second chance, or a necessary leg up in taking charge of your health, we’re glad modern medicine was able to offer what it did. Though we may have our share of critiques for the business side of the system, we unquestionably appreciate the occasional essential drug treatments that industry, academia and non-profit medical foundations make available to our society.

Thoughts? Comments? Getting a sense that this is a disclaimer before another anti-drug post? Need tips for fixing that dropped jaw (or broken chair)? Send us a line, and thanks for reading.

dieselbug2007, Destinys Agent Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Deconstructing Healthcare in America – A Modest Proposal

Diabetes is Now a Disorder of the Small Intestine?

Pharmalot: AstraZeneca Investor Questions Big Pharma Model

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16 thoughts on “We Like Drugs – Fair and Balanced”

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  1. The question is…how do you change the average mindset from just going to get a simple RX for something covered by insurance…when they need more lifestyle changes? It’s too easy and cheap to get the drugs nowadays (outside of life saving emeregency needs). Some how there has to be a way to motivate people to go take responsibility for their own health, clean up their foods and environment…and get healthier. Otherwise this “crutch” and quick fix mentality of drugs will just bring people down a long road of sickness and disease. Stop throwing life preservers when we can just teach them to swim.

  2. As long as it’s cheaper and to get your hands on a drug (assuming for the moment that it works and is realatively safe) the majority of people will always take that route.

    Not sure what, if anything, can be done about that.

  3. I agree. It’s a culture of enablement. Yes, there are people who truly need certain medications, and they should absolutely get the full treatment they need. But I can’t understand how people don’t take charge and make changes in their daily lives–from the food they eat, to the level of their activity, to the cleaners and toxins they intentionally surround themselves (and everyone else with). And oftentimes, the doctors have almost nothing to say about the role of lifestyle: “Here’s your prescription, and try to cut back on saturated fat.” End of appointment.

    I have two parents with autoimmune disorders who eat almost nothing but processed food (frozen, restaurant, boxed), have their lawn regularly sprayed and use those ridiculous overpowered, toxic cleaners in their house. And then they complain about their symptoms and the cost of their medications. When you see this mentality in the people closest to you, it’s even more frustrating. Why won’t people learn to help themselves?

  4. My sister in law is a Registered Nurse and works in surgery, i’ve heard her say many times that drugs are helpful to the patient during surgery and how necessary the drugs really are. Drugs are indeed for those who “need” them, such as the case of surgery. And even afterward for pain and help healing the body for what it’s been through!

  5. The problem is that everyone pays for people who don’t want to make lifestyle changes. We pay for those people through our insurance. It’s going to be an increasing burden as medicine continues to become more sophisticated and expensive.

    I’m basically pumping dough into other peoples’ pockets right now, because I have no health problems. I’m subsidizing the health problems of others. I’m OK with helping people out a bit, but it’s important to understand that people who take the easy way out hurt us all.

  6. The insurance question is interesting. For a single person with no health problems it may be worth putting aside the amount you would have paid in insurance into savings and paying cash for your healthcare. Or go a for “catastrophic” policy that only covers the big ticket stuff.

    For any kind of insurance the responsible subsidize the reckless.

    Americans can think themselves lucky. In NZ, where I live, we pay for a third-rate state health system whether we use it or not (I don’t), then we pay on top for private-tier care by cash or insurance. There’s no rebate on taxes. And there’s even less incentive for most people to mind their health (healthcare is “free”).

    Unbelievably, people will die on waiting lists, or wait for months in great pain rather than raise a loan against their house.

    There’s nowt as queer as folks.

  7. Interesting points. I think that drugs are essential in emergency medicine and for treatment of pain for terminally ill case, but other than that I think what we put into our bodies and how we feed our bodies eliminates the need for them. I have written countless articles about the importance of organic foods and nutrition that have literally changed my family’s lives. We rarely even use aspirin anymore!


  8. There is no money in lifestyle change. There is money in drugs. I don’t think many dr’s are intentional about this, emphasizing the scrip more than the lifestyle change needed. It would help too if other people (ie friends, family) were more supportive of lifestyle change instead of either making it harder for that person or blowing it off like they are making too big a deal. It’s just the mentality, why do things the hard way when you can do the easy way.

    I am currently being tested for celiac disease. If I do have it (or even “just” a gluten intolerance), then the ONLY option is lifestyle change. And I believe that the reason there aren’t better tests for celiac is that there just isn’t any money to be made for the companies that would fund the research.

  9. “Lifestyle change” is predominantly a problem of poor and confusing education. 40 odd years of the anti sat fat campaign has shown how the food industry and dietary habits can be changed through campaigning against “unhealthy foods”

    the problem is not the effectiveness of nutritional education, the problem is incorrect and poor education. the fact is, because health authorities have been fundamentally wrong, and recommended a diet that exacerbated the problem – noone is sure what is healthy and are put off the low carb route. the lack of confidence in dietary advice and the proliferation of junk science has degrade dietetics.

    most dieticians are resigned to medicalising bad dietary consequences because they know the advice doesn’t work – they think it’s because people are weak and stupid. i’d place that accusation on the doorstep of modern dietary orthodoxy.

    until authorities recognise the “grand mistake”, and rectify and unify advice, all attempt to change lifestyle on a general scale is futile. and drug companies are the vultures that will exploit the opportunity for gain.

    we know what the causes of the “diseases of civilization” are. but it needs an official consensus and another 40 years of redressing the sins of our fathers to make “lifestyle change” a viable treatment for the majority of sick westerners.

  10. I’ve been on both sides of this one — I’d be dead 5 times over if it weren’t for modern drugs. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have half the problems I have now if doctors hadn’t also handed me far more antibiotics, NSAIDs, steroids and other drugs than I really needed throughout my life. The result? Significant damage to my gut, liver and immune system, leaving me constantly fatigued, sick, and allergy-ridden.

    Thankfully I found a doctor willing to wean me off all the pharmaceuticals and help me make the lifestyle changes to restore my health; it hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it!

    Even with my bad experience, I don’t completely rule out the use of medication — but I consider the usage very carefully and do everything I can to minimize the risks.