Sunday, April 17, 2005

Latest Outrage

From the Chicago Sun Times:

Alice and Ken Heckman each start their morning by cracking open a plastic tray
with scores of pills in a rainbow of pastel colors.

Between the two of them, they gulp 29 pills every day: a regimen of 14 drugs, with
a chaser of dietary supplements.
Here's the curious part:
They feel pretty hale for people in their early 70s, working around the house and
volunteering with several community groups.

The rest of the story is here.

Let me see if I've got this straight - people feel well, and they take meds. They take meds, and they feel well. Is it possible that the medication is... A contributing factor in their continued health?

The rest of the story is less ridiculous, yes. But it would be nice to know what they're taking, other than the fact that they have 14 drug perscriptions between the two of them. According to the story:

She has well-controlled diabetes. He has worked his way through heartburn,
arthritis, an enlarged prostate and occasional mild depression.

O.K. At one drug per disease, that's 5/14. I would assume that at least one of those diseases requires multiple drugs (I'm guessing diabetes). Add in drugs for heart disease and you're almost there. The most effective heart regimens contain multiple drugs - diuretics, aspirin, drugs to slow the heart etc. etc.

From my limited knowledge, I guess that Americans might be overmedicated, in that, for some, taking fewer drugs would increase their quality of life. But that's just a guess. I would also guess that there are quite a few undermedicated Americans, who lack access to medical care.

I bash drugs companies relentlessly for their marketing, for their creating of me-too drugs, for their patent extending games, etc. I also bash physicians for not being better informed, not standing up to their patients, etc. But... if those drugs are what the Heckman's need to feel hale, why not leave them be?


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