Just Take This Pill . . . (we need the money)

There has been a lot written the past several years about over prescribing drugs to people, especially seniors, in America. I have to throw my hat in the ring.

This is personal, as it deals with my step-father of 30 years. (I earlier mentioned in a post that my biological father was killed in an accident when I was 20. Mom re-married 7 years later.)

Pop, as we called my step-dad, passed away just over a year ago, on July 4, 2008.

He was, without a doubt, over prescribed. And, I am certain, that this caused his death. It also added profits to the drug companies (more on that in just a bit).

At one time, Pop had been advised by physicians to take as many as 12 different drugs during the course of his day. And he did it. Without any questions. Without any regard to what may be occurring in, and to, his body. And, unfortunately, without telling any of us.

I defy anyone, anyone at all, to tell me (and the world) what the consequences might be to have that many different drugs in a body at the same time.

It would be extremely hard (I say impossible) for any drug company scientist or researcher or any pharmacist, despite their years of study and training, to predict all of the possible side effects one drug might cause in a body. Why? Because there are over six and a half billion people on Earth and that means there could be that many different reactions, as every person’s body is just a little bit different.

Thus, if it is hard to predict everything that one drug could do, how could anyone possibly believe that they could, in good conscience, prescribe two, four, eight, or twelve completely different drugs to one individual?

Pop’s final two or three years were the worst. He started a serious decline in motor functions, bodily control, experienced dizziness, lightheadedness, and more, all of which ultimately combined to lead him to death before his time.

Undoubtedly the main culprits, through direct observation (once we found out), were antidepressants, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety pills, which my sister and I do not, to this day, believe that he needed.

Almost all of the time, Pop had already started taking one of the new wonder pills his doctor advised before we discovered he was taking it.

And, yes, his family doctor and the specialists he had visited, knew his history and the drugs he had been taking at the time. At least they had all the paperwork citing such. Did they review it? I certainly hope so.

Generally, within a day or two of beginning with an additional anti-pill (a week at most), Pop would experience one or more of the commonly advertised side effects.

Then, due to his by-then-weakened body state, he would fall and injure his body. One time he broke his right hip and off he went to the hospital. Next, he got dizzy sitting on the toilet and slipped off only to fracture a rib. Another time he experienced vertigo and banged into the doorframe and cracked his collar bone. The final saga began with another fall where he broke his other hip.

After that last fall, he went to the hospital, then to extended nursing care and finally back to his assisted living facility before finally passing.

Each of those accidents occurred following his taking yet another anti-pill “to make him better.”

During this time Pop also started losing weight. He was not a big man. He was below average height for a man and slender. I think that anyone without excess body fat to lose who experiences a 35% loss in their weight will eventually fall to serious consequences.

Shortly after Pop passed away CNN ran a story about over prescribing seniors with drugs, sharing similar stories of other people.

Then there was a news story about Eli Lilly and their, what I call, payoffs to doctors.

Lilly explains that the gifts and the consulting and speech money they pay are made to compensate a doctor for time away from practice for doing such. That may be true enough. However, critics of this compensation practice (which has probably been going on for decades) feel that treatments recommended by these doctors are more than likely influenced by these payments. I would have to agree.

While Wall Street companies (i.e., the financial market, et al) pay their executives rather lavish salaries, bonuses and other forms of compensation, drug company executives also score extremely well.

And, while drug company execs make tens of millions in salaries and bonuses and even more in stock options, the net profit of these pill pushers is astronomical.

Let’s take, as a comparison, oil companies.

For 2007, according to a Congressional Research Service report, the oil industry earned $1.5 trillion (78% by the big five) and had a net profit of $155 billion (75% for the big five). Those figures are, indeed, very large. Taking it one step further, these numbers equate to approximately an 8% net profit, which is not much higher than reported by the US Census Bureau a decade earlier, with much lower gas prices.

By comparison, the pharmaceutical industry, for 2007, raked in $606 billion in revenue. The drug companies are pretty consistent in earning above 15% in net profits. That is about twice as much as the oil industry and several times more than the manufacturing industry (usually around 4%) and retail (closer to 2% or 3%).

As an added note, Pfizer Company had sales of over 48 billion dollars in 2006 and had an almost 40% net profit, over $19 billion.

I do believe that a 40% NET PROFIT is completely out of hand.

Even Wal-Mart, with worldwide sales of nearly $405 billion, made a paltry, by comparison, 3% net profit (or slightly over $13 billion).

And, we in Main Street USA wonder why health care costs so much. (I covered some of that reason in an earlier post.)

If people want to talk about who is really only in business for the money look no further.

It is the same companies that are producing the anti-pills that have widely advertised (forced on them by the FDA) side effects such as: sexual dysfunction, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, hostility, extreme agitation, suicidal thoughts, and more. One that I know of even has to state sudden accidental death.

And would not those possible side effects become more pronounced if combined with some other drug, or combination of drugs?

While I am not a chemist, to me it makes perfectly logical sense to conclude that when a person ingests several foreign chemicals (i.e., not naturally found in his/her body) that there could be severe complications.

That is why there currently are class action law suits against some of the pharmaceutical companies.

What I know for certain is that Pop started his decline with increased drug prescriptions, many of which did have adverse affects and caused bodily harm/injury, ultimately leading to his demise. Rest In Peace, Pop.

Over For Now,

Main Street One