Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Dangers of Too Much Medical Care

[Maddeningly, the date problem isn't solved after all. I used the Post Options button to correct today's blog date to Tuesday Feb 6, but it's still coming out as Monday and Monday's date-line has vanished. Oh well, no use getting steamed up about it, I guess. Will try to make corrections later.]

The other day I discovered an interesting and rather alarming page at Amazon US headed The Dangers of Too Much Medical Care.

It's a list of 26 books with titles such as

Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmeceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients

Disease-Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies, and Insurers Are Making You Feel Sick

Hope or Hype : The Obsession with Medical Advances and the High Cost of False Promises

The list has been compiled by an American science fiction writer Sylvia Engdahl whose father was Swedish. [See photo] Her website is well worth a visit.

I arrived at Ms Engdahl's list via the site of an American doctor, Dr Jay S Cohen, where I was appalled to learn that "Medication reactions are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, linked with more than 100,000 deaths, 1,000,000 hospitalizations, and 2,000,000 severe or permanently disabling reactions annually (JAMA 1998). And that's just the statistics from hospitals; adding adverse reactions in outpatients would make the numbers even higher."

On Dr Cohen's site I also read, "MENSA BULLETIN: "If you're one of the 46 percent of Americans on a drug regimen, this book could save your life, so do yourself a favor and get a copy." "

Way back in 1959, for a few weeks – I can't remember how long it lasted - my days, like those of many pregnant women, started with bouts of morning sickness. As by then I had given up newspaper work and was writing romances at home, throwing up breakfast was only a minor problem.

Fortunately I didn't ask for, or my doctor didn't offer, the pills that some women took. Because, as you can read at Wikepedia, from "1957 to 1961 in almost fifty countries under at least forty names, including Distaval, Talimol, Nibrol, Sedimide, Quietoplex, Contergan, Neurosedyn, and Softenon. Thalidomide was chiefly sold and prescribed during the late 1950s and 1960s to pregnant women, as an anti-emetic to combat morning sickness and as an aid to help them sleep. Unfortunately, inadequate tests were performed to assess the drug's safety, with catastrophic results for the children of women who had taken thalidomide during their pregnancies."

Since then I've had more than one friend who has become addicted to tranquillisers, but luckily I've never needed to take more than the occasional paracetamol for a headache. Nevertheless, I shall order Dr Cohen's book The Dangers of Too Much Medical Care.

If 46% of Americans are on prescription drugs, how many Brits are, I wonder?

So far I haven't found any statistics, and Amazon UK doesn't have a page of books by British authors about the prescription drug problem in the UK. The only title listed is by another American doctor.

Why are no British doctors writing tirades about this problem?


At 07 February, 2007, Blogger Lorna said...

Why are no British doctors writing about this problem? Because the pharmeceutical industry is huge here in the US.

As the government here cannot, by law, negotiate drug prices for the minimal government coverage that exists (Medicare), the drug companies make a lot of money. And all of the drug companies advertise on TV. If you've seen any American TV, you'd notice this pretty quickly.

But I do also believe that this is partly the public's own fault. If you have, for example, high blood sugar, and the doctor tells you that you can lower it by changing your eating habits and exercising more, or take a pill, most people would take the pill. Why? It's easier, and we've been conditioned by all these ads that pills must be safe, otherwise the government wouldn't allow them to be sold.

Interesting topic, and I must make a note of the book so that when (if) it's available at the local library, I can have a look at it.

Sacramento, CA

At 07 February, 2007, Blogger Beckie said...

Why no tirades by British doctors? Because we don't have to pay for our healthcare, so we don't feel we need to get our "value for money" to the same extent.

Also, possibly, because licensing and advertising laws for drugs are tighter in this country - we don't see prescription drugs advertised and there are several drugs available in the US that are not available over here.

I think it is possible that this tirade has gone a little too far in one direction. Yes there is a lot of medication floating around now, but this is also because we have a better understanding of the causes of diseases.

At 01 October, 2007, Blogger Sylvia said...

Since you commented on my Amazon list on the dangers of too much medical care, you may be interested to know that I've just published a novel, Stewards of the Flame, which deals with a society far in the future where the trend of medicalization has been carried to its ultimate and frightening conclusion. (Unlike my earlier novels, which were for teens, this one is strictly for adults.) There's information about it in my blog at http://towardtomorrow.blogspot.com and at its own site www.stewardsoftheflame.com.

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