Give Us this Day Our Daily Meds

How do you start your day? Does your breakfast contain a line of pills (and I don’t mean vitamins) longer than your middle finger? If you open your medicine cabinet too quickly is there an “orange avalanche” of pill bottles? Have you succumbed to the slick marketing of pharmaceutical companies like many of my baby boomer friends who daily whip out an array of drugs for restless leg syndrome, elevated cholesterol, reduced bone density and sleep deprivation?

If you read any magazine and look at the ads, you’ll see that the pharmaceutical companies have medicalized just about every illness, condition and quirk. Not only are drugs shamelessly marketed directly to potential “patients” but to the physicians who would and do prescribe them. My 27 years of experience consulting on products liability and medical malpractice cases as a legal nurse consultant have caused me to be very suspicious of pharmaceutical companies and the diseases they create, and of course, very agitating to my personal doctors.

My Italian grandmother lived a long life and never took a single prescription drug. In Italy, food is the drug, and she proved to me first hand that what I shove into my mouth directly impacts my energy level and the state of my health. Relax, this isn’t a blog on diet. I don’t advocate any particular diet but I try and stick to a Mediterranean diet (mainly for the spaghetti), it’s what keeps me a healthy size 4 (I wish).

I’m a small woman at 5′ 2½”. When I was diagnosed with osteopenia my physician immediately recommended Fosamax®. Considering all the side effects of Fosamax, which I’m intimately familiar with because of products liability litigation, I rejected it outright, but I know others who haven’t and others who won’t when their time comes (good luck chewing your steak).

Instead I increased my vitamin D, calcium and vitamin K intake; hit the weights in the gym a lot harder and added a little jump roping; all without the help of estrogen (natural, artificial or otherwise). It took some serious discipline but in one year I had gained significant bone mass – at a time and at an age at which the vast majority of women lose bone mass.

My physician couldn’t believe it and in fact, seemed almost upset that I did it without her help (or her meds). Surely I was an anomaly. No matter the evidence, there was no way she was a believer. She continues to practice medicine like the typical pill-pushing physician who’s been brainwashed by the pharmaceutical companies. Thank God I’m a nurse and can think for myself.

But most consumers can’t, so that’s why the book Our Daily Meds: How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs by Melody Petersen is one of my favorites on the pharmaceutical industry. Not a day goes by that I don’t read about a new drug’s serious side effects and the products liability cases generating from them. This book focuses on the institutional deception of pharmaceutical companies and is a must read for all Certified Legal Nurse Consultants who consult on pharmaceutical products liability cases, and even medical malpractice cases. The author discusses physicians’ less-than-appropriate relationships with the pharmaceutical industry and how it’s marketing, not science that drives these companies.

You won’t need this book to tell you what you probably already know, but it will help you think differently about your legal nurse consulting business and the CLNC® services you provide to your attorney-clients in this drug-dependent age.

Add this book to your “must reads.” And be careful what you put in your mouth – remember doctors used to endorse cigarettes once upon a time.

Success Is Inside!

P.S. If you want a truly eye-opening book on food and diet, try this one: Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes – it’s not a diet book and not a light read but will change your thinking (it got Tom off beer).

6 thoughts on “Give Us this Day Our Daily Meds

  1. Preach on, sister! Sounds like a must-read book. Example: Actonel for osteoporosis increases bone density only about 3%. These drugs are not without side effects and risks. Diet and exercise have a broad range of benefits, so it’s better to spend the $100/mo (Costco cost) on a gym membership.

  2. I praise you for this note. I completely agree with your theory. Diet and exercise (and a little knowledge) can change our lives in such huge ways. In so many ways pharmaceutical companies have brainwashed our society into believing a little pill will make all our problems go away. With our knowledge as Certified Legal Nurse Consultants, it is our responsibility to help teach the truth. Thank you.

  3. I really appreciate your blog today. Unfortunately, I am one of the ones who trusted in her physician when I began having severe symptoms and she kept ordering another med every time I developed another symptom. Nine months down the road, very near death, as a last resort, I was sent to a neurologist to confirm a diagnosis of late stages of multiple sclerosis. He performed a one and half hour neurological exam and at the end stated he concurred with my primary physician that I was in late stages of multiple sclerosis, but was sending me for a MRI of the brain to confirm it. He said that multiple sclerosis doesn’t always show up on MRI, except in the late stages. I went for the MRI and Praise God! It was completely clear!

    The neurologist told me to go back to my primary physician and have her take me off one at a time of the long list of meds she had put me on, because he felt I was having a severe reaction to at least one of them. Since I had been having the symptoms approximately nine months, she started with a cholesterol med Lipitor that she started me on nine months prior. I was off the med only about a week and half when my memory started improving dramatically and it only took about 2-3 weeks until I was able to carry on a normal conversation with someone. It took me about a month and a half of being off that med and nearly all the severe symptoms subsided. I still have slight residual with expressive aphasia, mostly when I get stressed out. This is one situation where all I really needed to do was to watch what I ate, start exercising, and lose weight to control the high cholesterol, but I chose to rely on a pill that nearly ended my life.

    There are situations where genetics and hereditary tendencies play a big part in health and illness esp. with cholesterol levels, and I do think if you have tried everything you know to do, but still need something to help, you should not hesitate to supplement with meds, but watch very carefully for any s/sx of adverse reactions even if they are not the normal side effects of that particular med. You may need to supplement with meds, but never turn to meds as your first choice.

    My mom is 72 years old and has never taken medicines of any kind. Yes she does have some aches and pains at times, but chooses not to rely on medicines to live. She is much healthier than any of her six children. I am just starting to realize how wonderful a role model she really is.

    Sometimes the side effects of the meds that are prescribed or even over the counter meds, are much worse than the benefits. When we are confronted with a situation, such as being told we need to take this new med, we need to learn to think for ourselves. We need to always consider the benefits vs. the possible consequences. We need to learn to think for ourselves what is best for us and not trust blindly that our physician and the pharmaceutical companies have our best interest at heart, because most of the time they don’t.

    Vickie, thank you for recommending both the books in your blog. I will certainly be adding those to my library soon and thank you for being a great role model to all of us CLNC® consultants, not just professionally, but you are such a great inspiration to all of us to take good care of our health and be consistent in eating good foods and exercising so we can do our very best in everything we strive to accomplish.

  4. You know what I wonder? Who turned the lights on? Pharmaceuticals have been doing this for years…and years…now, after all of this time, all of those fancy dinners and all of that “romancing” they have done for physicians, it’s like the general public is suddenly aware that pharmaceuticals have their hand in the cookie jar.

    It’s just my humble opinion, but every time I see someone “make it” without the medications I think “OH GREAT!” Perhaps it’s the time and dedication spent on the medication suits and the wrongful death cases that has brought awareness to acute levels of self warning with new medications.

    So, you know who I think turned on the lights? I think these court cases have brought these issues to the forefront. And I can’t help but feel a little “good inside” when someone tells me they chose the difficult path of self restraint instead of what is viewed as the “easy way” today and popping a pill.

    I’m happy things are changing in the pharmaceutical world and I’m even happier the general public is becoming aware of the consequences of self indulgence. And I can’t help but think that, in some small way, it was a CLNC® sitting behind a stack of cases that explained the harm a medication caused in a basic way, to an attorney, who then explained it to a jury, who then heard it and thereby the public became aware.

    It helps me remember that even though I may have a small business, I am not without influence in some way to a larger, greater picture.

    Nice Job Vickie!

  5. Yes, I can definitely relate to what everyone is saying here. I still have scary memories of the old folks who were admitted to my floor alert and oriented, and then within 24-48 hours of being put on numerous medications, confused, combative and incoherent. We had to really lean on the doctors to DC the meds, and once that happened and the meds were out of the patient’s systems, they were themselves again. Why doesn’t anyone learn from this?

    My own experience of having my doctor tell me that the symptoms I was having were not from the Mevacor he prescribed for me has made me extremely cautious of what medications I take. The reason being that I decided to take myself off Mevacor and within several weeks, the painful muscles and memory problems disappeared. This whole situation occurred because the pharmaceutical rep told the doctor there were no real side effects from that drug. Yeah, and I believe in the tooth fairy, too.

    Thank you for suggesting the two books, Vickie. I will definitely get them and read them. The more I know, the better CLNC® consultant I will be.

  6. Thanks for your book recommendation. I would like to add another book along the same line: The Truth About Drug Companies – How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It by Marcia Angell, MD (past editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine). It’s a great eye-opener to the pharmaceutical industry and its political influence.

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