brought to you by Lunesta, Viagra, Celexa, Celebrex, Lyrica, Cymbalta…

I just finished watching the Nightly News with Brian Williams on NBC and I am feeling quite annoyed. Why? Well besides the fact that there is not one news media source viewers can turn to for unbiased reporting-not only are we not being provided proper information, we are overwhelmingly bombarded with prescription drug ads. Put into perspective: NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX, etc., etc. are really just legal drug pushers. I mean seriously, have you noticed the ever-increasing number of prescription drug ads making their way into your home? It’s pretty nauseating. The way the ad manipulates you into believing taking their pill will fix your eczema, asthma, cholesterol, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, psoriasis, penile dysfunction, and so on and so forth. One thing we need to remember is that drugs target the symptom not the cause.

Cue good looking, in-shape actor or actress running down the beach along side their mate, faces aglow with the happiness that has been bestowed upon them from their prescription medication. Uh. Puke. Now don’t get me wrong, I do realize that prescription medication is warranted in society and I have no doubt that it has helped millions of people with their conditions, ailments, and diseases whatever they may be. What I don’t get is the purpose of selling the medication over the television. Seriously, shouldn’t your doctor be the one who discusses and prescribes the medications indicative of your condition? It’s obvious that prescription drug ads are a way for pharmaceutical companies to expand their market and increase their profits. Making up new conditions, such as LowT (low testosterone) or not-so-lush lashes (Latisse). It’s called ‘disease mongering’ and it’s used to widen their client base by getting you to ask your doctor if you have this particular condition and then having him/her prescribe the drug. Walla! Sold!

To date, the United States and New Zealand are the only TWO nations in the ENTIRE WORLD that permits Direct to Consumer (DTC) advertising for prescription drugs. Big Pharma spends over 4 billion dollars in DTC advertising and it is well worth it. As Americans, we consume over 40% of the world’s prescription drugs! Advertising has helped fuel sales. Last year, the top 15 prescription products topped $58 billion in sales, IMS Health says. The industry’s biggest seller was Lipitor, with $7.8 billion in sales. Nexium is the second-best at $5.9 billion.

Besides the corrupt government revolving door between the FDA, Big Pharma, and the drug lobby, one of the biggest irks for me when it comes to pushing prescription drugs on people is the use of celebrities. Celebrities pushing prescription drugs in TV ads, “It’s perfectly legal; it’s just completely immoral,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of the Public Citizen Health Research Group. Wolfe worries that patients will ask for a drug or prescription cream because the celebrity appeal outweighs the side effects or risks.

Hello, Brooke Shields. How many of you out there want her eyelashes after seeing her in the Latisse commercials? Come on gals. “Grow longer, grow fuller and darker lashes with Latisse.” Vomit.

Add in the likes of Sally Field (Boniva), Antonio Banderas (Nasonex), Michael Welch (Aczone), Jessica Simpson (Proactiv), Phil Mickelson (Enbrel), Bob Dole (Viagra), Virginia Madsen (Botox), Nick Jonas (Lantus, Metformin), and the list goes on and on.

Needless to say, drug commercials drive me insane. The beautiful outdoor scenery, palm trees, a light breeze, birds singing, smiling faces. Ugh! The worst part is when they happily rattle off all of the side effects that take up half the commercial. How do they make the following sound so good? Like it’s no big deal.

[Serious allergic reactions Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and/or throat Difficulty breathing Difficulty swallowing Anemia Decreased levels of potassium Decreased levels of sodium Dizziness Excessive bleeding (sometimes fatal) Facial flushing Fainting (syncope) Fast heartbeat (tachycardia) Heart attack High blood pressure (hypertension) Increased levels of potassium Low blood pressure (hypotension) Low blood cell counts Palpitations Perpetual erection (priapism) Postural hypotension Slow heartbeat (bradycardia) Thrombosis (clotting) Amnesia Dizziness (vertigo) Seizures Speech disorder Stroke Transient ischemic atychosis Worsening of epilepsy Abdominal pain Colitis Constipation Diarrhea Dry mouth Dyspepsia Intestinal bleeding Nausea Rectal bleeding Stomach bleeding Stomach pain Upset Stomach (indigestion) Vomiting Acute kidney failure Chronic kidney failure Hepatitus Jaundice Liver damage Cold symptoms Cough Flu-like symptoms Lower respiratory infection Fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) Pulmonary thrombosis Shortness of breath (dyspnea) Sore throat Upper respiratory infection Aggression Agitation Anxiety Confusion Depression Hallucinations Hostile Hyperactive Impulsive Irritable Panicky Personality disorder Overly excited Severely restless (akathisia) Sleeplessness (insomnia) Suicide Weakness (asthenia)....]

“Ask your doctor if (insert any medication here) is right for you and get back to the things that matter.”

I obviously try and mute the commercial or DVR the program to avoid subjecting myself to such grandiloquence.

I’m afraid if I don’t my HEAD will EXPLODE.

How’s that for a side effect?

dr. lisa

little people, big pHarma

Childhood a crisis? Get outta here. Are you serious? In the United States today, childhood could certainly be considered a crisis. The US spends significantly more on healthcare than any other nation, yet the rates of chronic and autoimmune diseases plaguing our kids has more than doubled in the past two decades. With an array of diseases affecting our kids comes an array of prescription medications developed specifically for ‘managing’ their conditions.

In fact, everyday children across America are adding a dose of medicine to their daily routine. Treatment today means taking prescription drugs, lots of them. According to the Medco 2010 Drug Trend Report, the growth in prescription drug use in children was nearly four times higher than the rise seen in the overall population. This trend, unfortunately shows no sign of stopping. Parents currently dealing with children whose conditions include diabetes, autism, allergies, asthma, obesity, and ADHD, can rest assured that Big PHarma is developing more pediatric drugs that your children supposedly need.

In 2009, the FDA expanded to pediatric patients the indications for cholesterol drugs, Welchol(R) (colesevalm HCl) and Crestor(R) (rosuvastatin); Atacand(R) (candesartan cilexetil) for hypertension; Axert(R) for migraines; heartburn treatment Protonix(R) (pantoprazole); and atypical antipsychotic medications Abilify(R) (aripriprazole), Seroquel(R) (quetieapine fumarate) and Zyprexa(R) (olanzapine).

Instead of dealing with the over-prescription of ‘drug cocktails’ our government so graciously approves of as safe, our government and the AAP actually make us believe that our children need these drugs, all of them. Just remember, the Food and Drug Administration requires the manufacturer to prove the safety of each individual drug. There are hardly any studies done showing the safety and efficacy of giving one child a combination of drugs. In fact, a surprising amount of these drugs prescribed to children haven’t even been tested for use in certain age groups. “Off-label prescribing” is a common practice used by physicians to prescribe medicine to children that has only been tested and labeled for adult use.

The most recent research lists the following top ten drugs being prescribed to children without proper labeling:

Albuterol, Phenergan, Ampicillin, Auralgan, Lotison, Prozac, Intal, Zoloft, Ritalin and alupent syrup.

Childhood a crisis? In one word, yes.

dr.lisa

pill poppin’ before kindergarten

Kindergarten. 1983. Remember? Table 1, table 2, table 3, table 4? Name tags made from paper bees hanging around your neck. Circle time, snack time, rest time, and lunch time. Singing songs, painting, and duck, duck, goose. You catch my drift. All your little friends sharing and playing puppet show with you. Listening attentively to the teacher and obeying the rules. Gold stars for good behavior. Learning how to tie your shoes.

Kindergarten. 2011. Repeat all of the above, circa 1983 Kindergarten. Additions include: Dramatic increases in learning disabilities, behavior disorders, restlessness, moodiness, ADD, ODD, depression, anxiety, and even bipolar disorder.

In fact more and more preschoolers and kindergarteners are being diagnosed with psychiatric disorders and are being put on prescription medication. It seems like more kids today are learning how to swallow pills before they learn their ABC’s. A 2007 study found about one preschooler in 70 was taking a psychiatric drug, such as a stimulant, an anti-depressant, a mood stabilizer, an anti-psychotic, or an anti-anxiety drug. More than 1 in 4 children in the US now take regular prescription drugs, according to Medco Health Solutions, Inc.

Medco’s chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Epstein explains:

“Children are receiving anti-psychotics with greater frequency and that may be because they are viewed as less dangerous than the older medications and can be helpful for conditions that were previously treated with other medications. However, these drugs are not without their risks. There is evidence that the risk of diabetes and metabolic disorders from using atypical antipsychotics could be much more severe for pediatric patients than adults, and there is a need for more studies to understand the long-term effects of these drugs on children.”

A recent Parenting Magazine article states:

In spite of the growing number of young kids taking psychiatric drugs, these medications (with a few exceptions) are not specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in children under age 6. Why? Because little is known about how they affect the tiny brains and bodies of young children.

“We have very little research to show how psychiatric medications affect the developing nervous system, for instance,” says Dr. Olfson, a Columbia University psychiatrist and researcher. “This is a concern.”

Anti-psychotics are linked to rapid weight gain and metabolic and endocrine abnormalities. In one study, kids ages 2 to 6 gained an average of 19 pounds in less than 12 weeks on one anti-psychotic drug regimen.

The article also tells the heart wrenching and disturbing story of four-year-old Shelby:

 As the sun rises over Phoenix, 4-year-old Shelby wakes. She sleepily uses the potty, dutifully washes her hands, and then accepts a white capsule from her mother.

The blond-haired, blue-eyed little girl swallows the medicine easily. “And then she’s off—to take care of the pets, play with play dough, and just be Shelby,” says her mother.

The capsule contains 20 milligrams (mg) of Ritalin (methylphenidate), the prescription stimulant used to calm and focus children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). After dinner, Shelby takes more meds — 2.5 mg of Abilify and .05 mg of clonidine. The preschooler has been on daily medication since she was 2.

This is what its come down to in the US today. Problem. Medicate. Problem. Medicate. Side effect. Medicate. Side effect. Medicate. What are the repercussions? How can we possibly see drugs as a solution? Pretty soon we will have a nation filled with over-weight, doped up toddlers mindlessly drooling while singing Row Row Row Your Boat. Oh wait, we already do.

~let’s support the health of our children, together.~

dr. lisa